American Family sends catastrophe team to help Windsor-area tornado victims

Customer claims are already approaching 600 with more expected

Windsor, Colo. (May 23, 2008) —A catastrophe team from American Family Insurance is responding to Windsor and surrounding areas to assist residents whose homes, autos and businesses were damaged from Thursday’s powerful tornado and hailstorm.

The company has already received close to 600 claims from the storm, including numerous reports of destroyed or seriously damaged homes in Windsor. That number includes homeowners, commercial, farm-ranch and auto claims.
Policyholders who have claims should contact their agent or American Family’s 24-hour Claim Customer Care Center, at 1-800-MYAMFAM (1-800-692-6326) to arrange an inspection of their property or vehicle.

Local American Family claims personnel were on site within hours of the tornado and hailstorm. A catastrophe team featuring the company’s state-of the art catastrophe vehicle will be based in the area at a site to be determined.

The vehicle uses satellite technology and a gas-powered generator to link claims personnel at the storm site to the company’s headquarters in Madison, Wis. Fully-equipped with computer work stations, phone lines, and a fax, the vehicle allows storm adjusters to efficiently and quickly settle claims, often writing checks on the spot to policyholders.

Among the damaged property was the Windsor office of American Family Agent Erich Ehrlich. Despite the damage and absence of power from the storm, the office remains open with Ehrlich and adjusters making advance claim payments to customers in need of emergency food and shelter.

Questions and answers for American Family customers:

How do I report my claim? To report a claim, please contact our 24-hour Claim Customer Care  Center at 1-800-MYAMFAM (1-800-692-6326) or your American Family agent.
What damages to my property might be covered? Your homeowners insurance policy covers tornado, wind or hail damage to your home and personal property. The “comprehensive” section of your auto insurance policy provides coverage for tornado, wind or hail damage to your vehicle.

Civil authorities have ordered me to evacuate my home. Does my policy pay for food and lodging during this time? Your homeowners insurance policy pays for additional living expenses for up to two weeks if you are denied access to your home by the civil authorities. This includes reasonable motel and food expenses. Keep copies of the receipts for your adjuster.

Can I get an emergency advance payment? Yes. If you have a covered loss and need emergency funds, we can provide you an advance payment. This advance payment will be applied to your final claim settlement.

Can I start to make repairs to prevent further damage? You should protect your property immediately against further damage and theft. Use plywood, tarps or other materials to cover broken windows and damaged rooftops. Keep the receipts of any materials/services that you purchase to make these repairs so your adjuster can review them and reimburse you for expenses covered by your policy.

Is there anything I can do to help with the claim process? Begin to compile a list of personal property and belongings you believe were damaged or destroyed by the storm. Briefly describe each item, including its age, current value, make, model and serial number.

How will the hail damage inspection process work? When a hailstorm creates a large volume of claims, we will typically establish one or more drive-in sites where policyholders can take their hail-damaged vehicles to be inspected and receive payment for repairs, less their deductible. These inspections take place on an appointment basis only, so it’s important that you first report your claim.

If your home has sustained hail damage, an adjuster will contact you at one of the phone numbers you provided when you reported your claim. The two of you will schedule an inspection of your home, after which the adjuster will develop an estimate and make payment for repairs covered by your policy.

When can I remove debris from my property?  Document your storm-damaged belongings with photographs, video and/or a written list before disposing of debris. If this is not possible, please wait to remove the debris until an adjuster can help you with the documentation. 

Does my policy have coverage for boarding pets? Yes, your homeowners policy covers the cost of temporarily boarding domestic pets if civil authorities prohibit access to your home. Keep copies of the receipts for your adjuster.

Do I have coverage to replace damaged trees or remove tree debris caused by the storm? Homeowners insurance generally does not cover damage to trees or the removal of tree debris from the property. If a tree has fallen on your home and caused damage, however, we will pay to cut away that part of the tree so repairs can be made; most policies will also pay up to $500 for removing that part of the tree from the property. Check your policy for specific coverage.

The storm caused a neighbor’s tree to fall on my house? Whose insurance company should I report my claim to – the neighbor’s or mine? Report the claim to your insurance company. Since damage was caused by an act of nature and not caused by negligence on the part of your neighbor, your insurance policy applies. If the roles were reversed and a tree from your property fell on your neighbor’s home, the neighbor’s insurance policy would apply.

My power is out, and it looks like it will not be restored for quite some time. Do I have coverage for food in my freezer and refrigerator that I’ll have to throw out it if power isn’t restored? Yes, homeowners insurance generally provides coverage for food spoilage from a storm-related power outage. Check your policy for specific coverage amounts, which is usually per refrigerator or freezer. Another great feature about this coverage is that your deductible does not apply. 

Who do I call to make repairs? You are free to select any contractor or repair shop you wish. It is usually best to select one who has operated in the area for several years, is insured and bonded, and will give you a written guarantee for the work performed.