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Home Insurance Claims

Jean M. Bauer, Professor and Extension Specialist — Family Social Science

Revised July 2013 by Rosemary K. Heins and Cindy M. Petersen, Extension Educators — Family Resource Management.


In general, homeowners' insurance policies cover structural damage to homes, farm buildings and garages following a storm. Damage to personal property may be covered depending on the provisions of your policy. This includes damage caused by fallen trees, and hail or wind damage to roofs. Few policies cover flood damage whether caused by streams, rain or sewer back-ups. Tree trimming or removal is usually an out-of-pocket expense. Special flood policies may be warranted depending on where you live.

The items are spelled out in your insurance policy document. The interpretation of what's covered and what isn't may be a point of discussion between a homeowner and the insurance company. Sewer back-up coverage is an optional provision that can be purchased. Adjusters provide quick, easy settlements of claims - that's good and bad. Everyone wants quick resolution, but structural damage may include things that aren't immediately apparent. Be patient and thorough in having damage assessed. Once you cash an insurance check labeled "full, final and complete settlement" you may have no recourse if you discover additional damage later.


Keep careful records of damage and losses. It will help your claim if you have receipts, an inventory of household items and "before" photos. Work closely with your insurance company. Insurance companies are in business to assist you and to work with you. If you reach an impasse or feel you've been treated unfairly, contact one of the following agencies:

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