|By Tom Lutey, Billings Gazette, Mont.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
"It's hard to figure out," Wanty said. "I have to learn how submit documents electronically." The storm that blanketed
Experts from the office of the State Commissioner of Insurance, in town Wednesday and Thursday to help with hail-related insurance problems, say
State Auditor and Insurance Commissioner
People with home and auto insurance questions showed up early to meet with Lindeen's staff. A sign above one of the work tables read "Hail help is here. Sign a complaint."
There are people who had been recently notified by their insurance companies that their policies were being terminated "due to hail." In other words, insurers were cutting their losses in
Companies do have the right to terminate a policy, Schafer said, and it can be difficult to get insurance elsewhere once that happens.
As property and casualty experts met one-on-one with homeowners at folding tables in the back of the room, Schafer gave an overview of what homeowners should know about their insurance.
People have a right to receive the full benefits offered in their policy, Schafer said. That means they shouldn't hold back when reporting damage. But they should also know what their policy covers. Not everything a person assumes would be covered by insurance is covered. Fencing sometimes isn't covered, Schafer said, though people assume it is.
Schafer said it's important that homeowners file their claims as soon as they can. If possible, homeowners should try to get an estimate of what the repairs will cost before the claims adjuster arrives to look at the property. They also ought to be accurate in what's reported and document everything, even phone calls. A homeowner should document the date, time and the name of the person they spoke to when speaking by phone with an insurer. Those details matter later if the
Property and Casualty expert
It's also important that the insurer and the contractor agree on the scale of the needed repairs, Nyland said. If there's disagreement over the size of an area to be fixed, it might be necessary to bring another claims adjuster out to re-measure the area to be fixed.
Finally, Nyland said Montanans are entitled to replacement materials that match what's been damaged. That can be difficult if the damaged material has faded with age. The brand new material might not look the same, but if oxidation is the difference, then the new material will still be considered a match. If the original material cannot be matched with new material, then a homeowner may be entitled to having entirely new material, even in areas where storm damage was minimal or nonexistent.
Thursday, the hail help sessions will be from
People with insurance questions are asked to bring any paperwork related to their claim, including their insurance policy, if possible, and repair receipts.
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