Insurance coverage

Iowa tornadoes show why you need to check if you have enough insurance

The March 5 tornado outbreak reminds us that you need to check your home insurance coverage to make sure it’s still adequate.

Lee Rood, the Des Moines Register readers’ watchdog, reports on residents of central Iowa who say they fear being told their storm-damaged homes were underinsured. And attorneys representing Iowa disaster victims in insurance claims say they often find themselves in legal battles with insurers refusing to pay the full amount of damages.

Continued:Central Iowa tornado victims wait and fear to be told they are underinsured

The risk of having insufficient coverage is further aggravated by soaring construction costs. Commercial Property Executive, an industry newsletter, reported on Thursday that Construction and engineering costs in March were the highest on record in the 10-year history of the IHS Markit PEG Engineering and Construction Cost Index.

Here are some helpful tips:

  • Review your insurance policy to understand what costs will be covered after a claim and for how long. Pay particular attention to whether you’re covered for replacement cost, which covers the full cost of repairing the damage, minus the deductible, or the actual cash value, which takes depreciation into account. If it’s the latter, consider getting a quote for a replacement cost policy.
  • If your home or business has been damaged, ask when you can expect an adjuster to call and what information the company will need to process the claim.
  • When you need to file a complaint, record the name and phone number of everyone you talk to.
  • Know your claim or reference number.
  • Make a list of all damaged or destroyed personal property. Make a list of damage to the house and other structures.
  • Gather all photos or videos of your home and property before they are damaged or destroyed.
  • If you have time before the surveyor inspects your home, try to get written offers from contractors. You don’t have to have auctions, but they can help. Tenders should detail the materials to be used and the prices for these materials and labor line by line.
  • Take notes when you meet with the adjuster. Get the adjuster’s name and contact information and ask when you can expect a response.
  • Remember that your establishment will not necessarily be the same as your neighbour’s. Your coverages, deductibles and policy limits may be different even if the damage looks the same.

You can find a link to the Iowa Division of Insurance Disaster Claims Guide on the agency’s homepage, iid.iowa.gov.