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After Storms Hit Western Pennsylvania, Insurance Companies May Assess Damage Remotely

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- How are insurance companies dealing with claims amid the coronavirus pandemic?

Nowadays, they may not be sending out adjusters to see your damage. Like many other things these days, much of that work is being done remotely.

If you have damage to your property, before you think about putting on goggles and getting out your work gloves, you may want to sit tight.

The most important thing is to make sure you contact your insurance company. They say they have to do things differently right now, but they are still working to get the job done.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

The best news? You're more than likely covered for Wednesday morning's storm.

"The silver lining of any wind storm event is," says Michael Barry, vice president of the Insurance Information Institute, "that's going to be covered under your standard homeowner's insurance policy."

For the past few years, the fieldwork of assessing the damage to personal property is being done a bit differently.

Adjusters may not ever come to your home, especially now in the midst of the coronavirus health crisis.

Jennifer Johnsen-Nazareth is a State Farm Insurance agent based in Sewickley.

"We are utilizing technology to the best of our ability to maintain social distance. That includes using things, again, like photos and video sent in by policyholders," Johnsen-Nazareth said.

There are additional resources that are now being used.

"The federal government has recently given insurers authority to use drones to assess damage," says Barry.

That is particularly true "in areas that are tough for an adjuster to get to," he added.

The insurance companies say one of the most important things you can do is start taking pictures of the property that has been damaged.

Make sure you show all the damage. The better the photos, videos and notes you take, the easier it will be to get a fast settlement from your insurance company.

When that work is done, make sure your damaged home, garage or shed is properly protected from the possibility of more destruction. Make sure to seal it up to the weather. Use a tarp to keep the water out so no additional damage is done.

"We want repairs to be done, temporary repairs to be done, as soon as it's safe to prevent further damage," said Johnsen-Nazareth. "We are expecting, in western PA, some additional storms coming through this evening after the ones that hit us last night. So temporary repairs are really important."

Make sure you keep the receipts for any material you buy for making those temporary repairs, too. More than likely, they will be covered by your policy.

Barry says don't dread this experience.

"The time for the insurance company to shine is when somebody's filing a claim and is in distress and has property damage. The insurance company wants to make that go as smoothly as possible," Barry said.

When there is as much damage as we have seen in the last 24 hours, the claims process may take a little bit longer than usual – so be patient.

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