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Tuesday, September 02, 2014

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Those without flood insurance still have options to file claims

Published 1:50 pm, Thursday, September 1, 2011
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Key numbers for people filing insurance claims: Connecticut Insurance Department -- 800-203-3447 A number of insurers have special Irene claims' numbers for those not listed, visit www.ct.gov/cid and click on the Irene Resources Link under "What's new."
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If your home has been damaged from floods and you are not covered by flood insurance, there are several steps you can take to file a claim.

Basic homeowners' insurance doesn't cover flooding, there are few private flood insurers and insurance isn't offered to people who don't live in official flood plains.

However, FEMA can provide grants to flood victims in cases where the state and federal governments agree it's warranted due to the nature of the disaster.

If you have flood and wind damage, you will have to call the National Flood Insurance Program run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and your home insurance provider.

Dennis Pinkham, a Region 1 FEMA spokesman, said state, local, federal and private sector staff ultimately confer on determining what caused damage to a home, but people should get moving on the claims process as soon as possible.

No matter what caused the damage, experts urge policy holders, including auto, renters and homeowners, to contact insurers to get the process started because most policies have a time limit for reporting and collecting. Thirty days is the usual time frame.

The process usually starts with a phone call and most insurance companies have set up toll-free numbers for claims processing. Homeowners are urged to have policies ready as well as a list of things that were damaged in the storm.

Travelers and other insurers reported Monday they were already fielding claims.

The Connecticut Insurance Department and FEMA recommend people to document everything. They should keep a journal of calls with insurers, writing down who they talked to, when they talked and what they discussed.

Both agencies encouraged people to take photos of the damage.

It's OK to make temporary repairs to secure property or even emergency ones to make the home livable; just call the insurer and tell them what you are doing and keep the receipts, FEMA and the Insurance Department said.

If the home is not habitable, remove valuables and keep receipts for lodging and expenses. Renter's insurance sometimes covers meals, rent and transportation.

After calling in a claim, the insurer will send an adjuster to survey the damage and you will then get an offer.

Donna Tommeolo, a Connecticut Insurance Department spokeswoman, said people can also hire their own adjuster to provide another opinion on the value of their belongings and homes.

You do not have to accept the insurer's settlement and can negotiate with them.

Tommeolo said insurance can be tricky at times and people are free to consult the Insurance Department with questions as well as disputes with insurers.