Insurers offer tips for homeowners

BY CARLIE KOLLATH
Daily Journal

TUPELO – If your house or business was damaged by Thursday's severe weather, the first thing you need to do is make sure your house is safe for your family and customers, says state Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney.

“Your first reaction is to call your agent,” he said. “But you need to be certain that your family is safe and that your home is structurally sound before you go back in. Be careful inside the house … You can always put up a ribbon to let someone know not to go in.”

Jim Miller, a Tupelo-based agent with Alfa Insurance, recommended that people be extremely careful when returning to their house after a storm because many power lines are down.

After that, Tupelo-based Toby Hedges with Shelter Insurance recommended that you take measures to prevent any further damage. For example, use a tarp to cover a hole in the roof until you can get it repaired.

Keep track of any money you spend on temporary repairs, Hedges said. And, if you can't stay in your house because of storm damage and have to go to a hotel, keep those receipts as well.

“People will be apprehensive about spending money because they don't know if they'll get money back,” he said, “but most times they'll get reimbursed.”

After you've made your temporary fix, call your insurance agent and file a claim. Miller said most insurance companies will have a claims department, which you can call directly. You also can call your agent and he or she will get the information to you.

If you are out of town, Miller recommended that you ask a neighbor to check on your home. If your neighbor finds any damage, call your agent, even if you aren't in town.

Tupelo-based Galen Green of Hometown Insurance Group also said it's important that people “make sure they know what they have that's getting damaged – what it's worth and what it would cost to get it recovered.”

And Hedges said while it is important to report damage as soon as possible, some people won't notice damage right away. If that happens, still call your insurance company and report it.

In the end, Hedges recommended that everyone keep in mind that this will be a busy time for insurance companies and adjusters.

“Be patient,” Hedges said. “It's a time that's not real comfortable for everybody. Be patient.”

Contact Journal business reporter Carlie Kollath
at 678-1598 or carlie.kollath@djournal.com.