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After Hail Storm, What Do You Need To Know About Making A Claim?

By Alan Gionet

DENVER (CBS4) - There's one bit of good news if you're one of the people with a car damaged by this week's hail. It was an act of God -- that means you won't likely be charged more to insure your car for making a claim.

That's about all there is for good news. Here's the rest:

If your car was damaged you have to be one of the people who carry what's called "comprehensive" coverage.

"Fortunately most people do," explained Carole Walker of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, an industry group. "You might think of car insurance as one thing, but it's actually six separate policies. Comprehensive is a coverage that covers you for hail, flooding, if your car is stolen, windshield damage. So that's the coverage you need to be talking to your insurance professional about."

Severe Weather May 8, 2017
Hail left holes in a car parked at the Colorado Mills on May 8, 2017 (credit: CBS)

Also, remember there's likely to be a deductible. There is no forgiveness with an act of God, the deductible is something you chose when you insured your car.

It's up to the insurance company whether to repair or replace your car.

Typically, if your car is worth more, they are going to try to replace it. If your car is an older model with a lot of miles, it will cost the insurer less to pay out the depreciated value of the car than it would be to fix all that damage. (They'll take what costs them less, thank you very much.)

What's on your side is part of the law.

"By law (the insurer) has to repair that to like kind and quality. So it has to be in the same shape as it was before," said Walker.

PHOTO GALLERY: Hail Damage On May 8, 2017

When it comes to home damage, you aren't likely to be as lucky when it comes to your insurance rates.

"We've been in this cycle of year after year of record breaking hail storms, so we are seeing premiums go up in Colorado," said Walker.

The first thing to remember is to clear the hail from things like window wells. If it melts and water seeps in sideways, that may require flood insurance. If you don't have optional flood insurance, you may have problems.

"If it's rising water coming up from the ground, either rising floodwater or that hail, melting seeping in through window wells seeping into those basements, that would be considered flood damage. You need separate property coverage for that," said Walker.

If it falls from the sky and causes damage, there will be coverage with your homeowner's policy, however. But you do have to try to keep things from getting worse.

"We do recommend that you make those temporary repairs then do hang on to those receipts because those repairs would be reimbursable if you do file a claim."

Not all of us are willing to climb a roof. And insurance companies aren't thrilled about paying for your medical coverage if you fall off, so it's not a requirement. But, you need to show some effort.

The key is to try to get a reputable contractor to cover a damaged roof to try to keep water from getting in. Easier said than done. Even insurers warn the people who go door to door after a storm are best viewed with suspicion. Good contractors don't often have to go begging for work.

"So be wary of someone who comes knocking at your door asking to put a yard sign up," Walker said.

Walker suggests checking in with the Better Business Bureau's website for ideas on contractors.

Additional Resources

Check out the Better Business Bureau's list of roofing contractors.

Alan Gionet is anchor of the CBS4 Morning News and reports on a wide variety of issues and "Good Question" stories. He started at CBS4 in 1994. Follow Alan on Twitter @AlanGTV.

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