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After the Wind: Dealing with Insurance, Avoiding Scams

Windstorm damage done to homes, vehicles and property will typically be covered by insurance. (M. Haus)
Windstorm damage done to homes, vehicles and property will typically be covered by insurance. (M. Haus)
March 14, 2017

LANSING, Mich. – The massive windstorm that tore roofs off houses and downed trees across the state also could rip a hole in your budget, which is why experts urge caution with the repair process.

More than one million people lost power from what's being called one of the worst weather events in state history. While most are expected to be back on the grid Tuesday, Lori Conarton, communications director for the Insurance Institute of Michigan says after a disaster like this, con artists often are looking to move in.

"They may come into an area after a storm and start knocking on doors and getting on your roof and telling you that you have damage," she said. "But you know what? Call your insurance agent to verify your benefits immediately after a disaster. Have them look at it first."

In a high-tech twist, many of those in affected areas now will see pop-up ads for repair companies on social media sites, but Conarton says it's always best to get referrals from friends and family, or to check with the Better Business Bureau. She advises taking pictures of any damage, and to stay away from contractors who demand cash up front.

Conarton says most wind damage, including trees that fall onto cars or homes, will be covered by insurance policies, however, those who are renting properties may find themselves in a tough spot since surveys have shown only about one-third have renter's insurance.

"They assume maybe, incorrectly, that their landlord will pay for any damage, and that's not the case," she explained. "The landlord's coverage will cover the building, the structure, but not the contents in it."

She adds that while spoiled food from a power outage isn't typically covered by insurance unless a separate rider was purchased, items purchased to prevent further damage to homes, such as tarps and plastic to cover roofs and windows, are reimbursable, which is why you should hold onto all receipts.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI