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Surviving a Tornado – How to Navigate Insurance Claims in the Wake of the Recent Connecticut Storm

Five minutes after I parked my car, a tree fell on it.

On Tuesday, May 15th I pulled into my driveway, in my small Connecticut neighborhood, under a grey sky. As soon as I walked in the house, the lights flickered. And then suddenly there was a loud “Crack!” and “Crash!” and the sound of breaking glass. I looked out the window and trees were bent 90 degrees, then snapping, and then flying up instead of falling down.

As quickly as it came, it passed. When I stepped outside, my first thought was that my car has seen better days.

My second thought was that my whole neighborhood had seen better days.

As I walked down the street surveying the damage, my neighbors started emerging from their homes like survivors in a post-apocalyptic movie. We speculated that it might have been a Tornado and that later proved to be true.

Naturally, the conversation turned to clean-up and insurance. I was amazed by the number people who didn’t know who their home insurer was. Most people knew who auto insurer was, but had no idea if something like this was covered. So, there I was excitedly talking about insurance with a group of middle-aged adults, in the pouring rain, with all the excitement of a group of teenagers at a music festival.

Here are quick insurance tips:

1. If you don’t know who your homeowner’s insurance carrier is, your mortgage company does. So, look up the number of wherever your payment and give them a call. Since your mortgage company is an additional insured on your policy, they keep these records on file.

2. Your homeowner’s insurance probably covers more than you think, like food that goes bad when you lose power or the flower pots on your back porch, so document everything and take lots of pictures.

3. Although claims can affect your future premium, making a claim when there is a declared disaster will usually have little-to-no effect on your premium. The disaster may drive up premiums for your area regardless of whether you file a claim, but you usually won’t be singled out.

4. Damage to your car is covered by the comprehensive portion of your auto policy. This is a separate coverage part that covers damage not resulting from a traditional auto accident. Usually comprehensive claims don’t affect premiums much (if at all). In Connecticut, you have a right to have your car repaired at a shop of your choosing, so don’t feel like you’re required to go where the insurer suggests.

5. If your carrier denies or undervalues your claim, you don’t need to accept it. You can appeal that decision.

6. Insurers have lawyers on staff, so if you have a claim denied you should consult a lawyer with expertise in insurance coverage. Even if the insurer’s denial makes sense to you, they might not be considering the whole policy or your full circumstances in making their decision and a well worded letter from an attorney may be all you need to have the carrier reconsider.

Finally, SDV is here to help. We are a national firm that focuses on representing commercial policyholders who are denied insurance coverage. Although our focus is on larger commercial claims, we are happy to help anyone who was affected by the storm and is having insurance issues. After all, we live here too. If you think you might need an attorney to help you get insurance coverage related to this storm, please give us a call at 203.287.2100 or send us an email at coverage@sdvlaw.com.

May 18, 2018
Geoffrey Miller