- Division of Insurance
According to a recent survey by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), 73% of homeowners said the most significant threats facing their homes are weather-related, with water damage and wind damage topping the list of their concerns. While no one can fully prevent weather-related damages from occurring, there are many steps a homeowner can take in advance of severe storms to help mitigate potential losses.
Tips for getting your home weather-ready:
- Review your homeowners’ insurance policy and understand what coverage you have and what coverage you might need, including but not limited to, additional living expenses and flood insurance. Remember, damage from flooding is typically not covered under a standard homeowner’s policy and the waiting period for most flood insurance policies is 30 days.
- Create a home inventory and take photos and video of your home and belongings. Keep sales receipts and make note of the model and the serial numbers of items.
- Trim trees back from your home and ensure gutters are secure and clear of debris.
- Pre-cut and pre-drill plywood for windows.
- Clear your yard and move furniture, grills, and toys under shelter. These items may blow around in high winds.
- Use shelves in basements or garages so that belongings are not on low-lying floors.
- Park your car in your garage if you have one. Consider adding comprehensive coverage to your auto policy. Your homeowner’s policy doesn’t cover damage to your vehicle, like that from flood water or falling debris.
Have your basic disaster supply kit, including a wrench or pliers to turn off utilities, stocked and in an easily accessible location.
Keep flashlights handy. They are safer than burning candles.
Consider future upgrades such as wind-rated garage doors, water and gas shut-off sensors, or hurricane straps.
If your home is damaged during a hurricane, notify your insurance company or agent as soon as possible. In addition, homeowners should:
- Protect and secure damaged property to the greatest extent possible to prevent further damage and salvage what you can.
- Note and photograph all damage and losses. This will assist in settling claims.
- Be sure everything is considered in the claim. Back-up your claim with written estimates.
- If hiring a public adjuster to assist with the claims process, be sure they are licensed with the Division of Insurance. Have a signed and dated contract that outlines the services provided and the adjuster’s fee. And keep in mind that if you hire a licensed public adjuster to handle your claim and then change your mind, state law allows cancel your contract within 3 days, subject to any emergency expenses paid by the adjuster during those three days (this language should also be in your contract, in bold type!)
- Hire a registered contractor for repairs. If your adjuster recommends a contractor they’ve worked with, check their license and registration status and the Division of Professional Licensure and the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. Never hire a contractor who isn’t licensed and registered and be sure their registration is current at the time you sign your contract with them.
Consumers with questions or concerns about their insurance coverage are encouraged to contact the Division’s Consumer Services Unit at 617-521-7794 or visit the Division’s website at https://www.mass.gov/home-insurance
About the Division of Insurance
The Division of Insurance is an agency within the Office of Consumer and Business Regulation. The primary mission of the Division is to monitor the solvency of its licensees in order to promote a healthy, responsive and willing marketplace for consumers who purchase insurance products. The Division is responsible for regulating Massachusetts’ $60 billion insurance industry and overseeing more than 1,600 licensed insurance companies and approximately 141,000 individual insurance producers. Protection of consumer interests is of prime importance to the Division and is safeguarded by providing accurate and unbiased information so consumers may make informed decisions and by intervening on behalf of consumers who believe they have been victimized by unfair business practices.