After you experience a fire at your home, seasonal, rental, or farm property the last thing you should have to worry about is an unexpected bill in the mail from the fire department. Many policies have an automatic limit of $500 for fire department charges, which in the past was enough to cover those charges. But things have changed, and as your agency we want to make sure you are informed about the changes.
WHAT WE HAVE FOUND
We have found that some fire departments have raised their minimum fee to $1,000. We recently heard from an insurance company we represent that a client who experienced a house fire received a bill from the fire department in excess of $5,000! A situation like that would hit your pocketbook hard.
WE ENCOURAGE YOU TO:
- Check with members of your town board, or your servicing fire department to find out how they determine their charges
- Find out if there is a maximum amount they will charge in the event of a fire.
- Ask whether additional charges will be assessed if other local fire departments are brought in to assist.
- Inquire about the possibility of extra charges if heavy equipment such as backhoes are being used to aid in fire suppression.
CAN ADDITIONAL COVERAGE BE PURCHASED?
Depending on your insurance company, you may be able to purchase additional coverage limits at a fairly reasonably rate. Cost is typically between $10 – 20 per $1,000 coverage.
WE’RE HERE FOR YOU
If you have additional questions, or want a price quote, please give us a call, or stop in. Our All-Time Insurance staff always is happy to provide you with the information you need in order to make informed decisions about your insurance coverage.
Madison, WI—Wisconsin Insurance Commissioner Ted Nickel expressed concern for the citizens of Wisconsin facing property damage and floods after storms in recent weeks.
“Unfortunately, this summer, many individuals throughout the state of Wisconsin have experienced the stress and pain from heavy storms as their homes and business have been damaged,” said Commissioner Nickel. “Make sure to check your insurance coverage and remember OCI and other state agencies are here to help.”
Typical homeowner’s policies usually provide coverage for damage that is the result of severe weather such as damage from hail or high winds. An exception is that damage caused by flooding is typically not covered. For protection against floods, you must purchase a separate policy from the National Flood Insurance Program.
Damage resulting from sewer backup and sump pump problems is also rarely covered in homeowner’s policies but an endorsement providing that coverage may be purchased and added to the policy. Endorsements are added to insurance policies in order to provide additional coverage to the homeowner’s policy.
Most comprehensive auto policies provide coverage for vehicles damaged in a flood. However, if you purchased collision-only coverage, you may not have coverage.
Commissioner Nickel suggests the following tips in dealing with storm aftermath:
- Notify your insurance agent or insurance company as soon as possible to begin the claim process. Make sure you provide a telephone and/or e-mail address where you can be reached.
- Pay attention to local news to find out if state and federal agencies are available on-scene to help with relief efforts.
- Separate damaged items from undamaged items.
- Make a detailed list of all damaged or lost personal property. It will help to take photos of the damage. Your adjuster will need evidence of the damage and damaged items. Do not throw out any damaged property without your adjuster’s agreement. If local officials require the disposal of damaged items before the insurance company’s claims adjuster can inspect the damages, take photos and keep a swatch or other sample of damaged items for the adjuster (e.g., cut swatches from carpeting, curtains, chairs).
- Contact your insurance company again if an adjuster has not been assigned to you within several days.
- Keep a file containing all the claim documentation including telephone logs, photos, estimates and receipts.
- To avoid scams, make sure to take your time. If you feel pressured to sign a contract quickly, take a step back and investigate.
The Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) Web site has many helpful publications including Consumer’s Guide To Homeowner’s Insurance and Personal Property Home Inventory. OCI also offers several publications that may help you as you sort through the claims process, including Settling Property Insurance Claims and Documents and Records, which provides a list of documents that will need to be replaced if they have been destroyed and whom to contact for replacement. All publications are available on our Web site at oci.wi.gov/Pages/Consumers/ConsumerPublications.aspx and may also be ordered free from the agency.