How to file insurance claims after severe storms

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DENVER —  Widespread storm damage in the Denver metro area on Wednesday led to a lot of calls to insurance agents, but not everyone likely got the answers they were searching for.

Hail and wind damage are generally pretty straightforward insurance claims for homeowners, but yesterday’s heavy rains and flash flooding can be a bigger test of coverage for both home and car owners.

Torrential rain hit Denver homes and cars from above and below on Wednesday.

“Just a stream of water coming down the street,” said Jason Brown, describing the scene from The Body Shop in Denver.

A day later the water may be gone but a flood of business has inundated The Body Shop in Denver. Some of the cars came in with damage from unexpected collisions with flood water in the street.

“A lot of people don’t know how to navigate it,” Brown said. “And it ends up costing them.”

The hail can cost even more.

“I’d say there’s a good 150 hail dents on this car,” Brown said, pointing out a damaged car in the parking lot.

Brown said some of the damage will be covered by the shop’s insurance because it happened on their lot, to their customers.

“It came in for about $2,000 worth of damage,” Brown said. “Now I’ve got to do probably $2,400 to $2,500 worth of work additionally.”

For car owners with basic, minimum car insurance, getting caught in the hail, floods or even the trees will be a big, personal expense.

“If you have comprehensive insurance, which is optional in Colorado on your car insurance, that will cover both flood and hail damage,” said Carole Walker with the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association.

The out of pocket cost for home damage could also depend on your coverage. If you sustained water damage, you might also be caught paying if you don’t have separate flood insurance.

Then again if it didn’t come from below, you might be in luck.

“If it’s hail damage coming down from the sky or even wind driven rain and it’s battering those roofs, coming in through the windows, that likely then is covered under your standard homeowners policy,” Walker said.

Though the body shop will be covered for its hail damage, nothing can buy them or their customers time.

“In a matter of a week we’ve gone from two weeks out to a month a half out for repairs,” Brown said.

If you’re unsure about your insurance, always make sure to document the damage and call your agent. If you’re short of coverage now, keep in mind, hail season is just beginning in Colorado. July is always the biggest month for claims.

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