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A natural disaster or severe weather event can strike at any time, that’s why it’s imperative for consumers to be prepared. The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation and the Division of Insurance offer the following tips for preparation and your safety after a disaster.

Before:

  • Review your insurance policies to ensure adequate coverage, including whether you have or need flood insurance. If you’re not sure you have enough coverage, talk to your agent or insurer.
  • Check what your policy covers. This includes knowing whether you can hire someone to make emergency repairs, whether your insurer will reimburse you for repairs you make yourself, or if your policy will pay for expenses if you’re required to bring homes up to the current building code.
  • Inventory and photograph your personal property. Keep copies, along with copies of your insurance policy in a safe location other than your home. Check out this Home Inventory Checklist from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) as a guide.
  • Take steps to mitigate damages to your property: Make sure your trees are trimmed back from your house and away from power lines; clear gutters and downspouts and inspect the underside of your roof for signs of leaks; and raise or anchor belongings or equipment that are in an area below base flood elevation.
  • Familiarize yourself with your community’s emergency plan and prepare an emergency supplies kit.

After:

  • Never try to re-enter your home or attempt repairs until it is safe to do so.
  • Contact your insurance company as soon as possible. Keep a record of all conversations with the insurance company including date and time of the conversation and the names of the people involved.
  • While you wait for the insurance adjuster, take action to prevent further damage, such as covering broken windows or removing water from the house. But remember, do not make permanent repairs until the adjuster has inspected the property.
  • Take pictures of the damage and keep receipts from any costs associated with securing your property. 

There may be options!

If your home repair contractor and your insurance adjuster disagree on the costs of repairs, contact the Division of Insurance’s Consumer Services Section. They may be able to help resolve any disputes. If damages cost more than the insurance policy covers, consumers should check with the state and federal disaster agencies to determine grant or loan eligibility.

 

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for all Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the State’s lemon laws, data breach reporting, and home improvement contractor programs, and the State’s Do Not Call Registry.

 

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