Here’s what to do if you have damage from a tornado or hail

Kevin Beaty/Denverite
Trees were uprooted and toppled in Highlands Ranch where a tornado was also spotted during severe weather on Thursday, June 22, 2023.

The severe storms that tore through Colorado’s Front Range communities this week, including a tornado in Highlands Ranch, left a big mess for homeowners to clean up.

For those with damage to cars and homes, it could take longer than anticipated for insurance adjusters to come up with an estimate, according to the Colorado Division of Insurance. Insurance agents will be swamped because of the severity of the storms, the insurance division said in a consumer advisory. 

Douglas County has made a disaster declaration for the area. The move opens state support to help people who have been affected by the severe weather. The county is also working to clean up tree debris that have clogged sidewalks and roads. They are also offering tree debris drop-off sites for people who have to clean it up from their own private property. Other areas outside Douglas County may also take tree debris. Contact your local recycler or waste management provider for more information.

Carl Bilek/CPR News
A fence was torn down in Highlands Ranch where a tornado was also spotted during severe weather on Thursday, June 22, 2023.

In the meantime, here’s what you need to do if you have damage, according to the state’s Department of Insurance:

Start the claim process immediately.

Insurance companies and their adjusters will be busy. If you need help getting contact info, contact the state’s Department of Insurance.

When it’s safe, document the damage.

Take photos of what’s damaged or broken. Many insurers will let you submit photos when you file a claim.

Mitigate the damage.

Cover roofs, board up windows and put plastic sheeting on broken windows or cars.

Figure out what your deductible is.

Review your policy to try to figure out if the damage is above your deductible, because if it’s lower than that amount, the insurance company won’t pay.

Ask questions of your insurer.

Once the company has determined what kind of loss you’ve had, they will give you documentation and make a payment. Ask for an itemized list of the damage and an explanation of the claim settlement offer. The DOI says “if there is a disagreement about the claim settlement, ask the company for the specific language in the policy that is in the question. If this disagreement results in a claim denial, make sure you obtain a written letter explaining the reason for the denial and the specific policy language under which the claim is being denied.”

Don’t rush into accepting an initial settlement offer.

You can and should negotiate with your insurer if you don’t think what they are offering you is fair. If you have questions about its fairness, ask a professional for help.

If the cost to fix the damage changes, tell your insurer.

Often, someone fixing something will find other damage that wasn’t included or found by your insurer. In this case, stop the work and notify your insurer of the change so they can’t take it into account.

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