Coverage...Can You Count On It?

By Zaneta Lowe  - bio | e-mail

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Workers from the Georgia Insurance Commissioner's Office are going door to door in Columbus, talking to storm victims to see how insurance companies are handling their claims.

One of the field representatives, Sidney Johnson, says most folks don't have complaints, just questions.

"A lot of people, the questions are about debris removal, living expenses, if they can't stay in the home," says Johnson.

One question that comes up frequently is, who is responsible for footing the bill if a tree lands in one yard, but comes from another?

"Your insurance is to protect your property, even if the tree came from your neighbors, it doesn't matter, your insurance is gonna protect your property, the only exception is if your neighbor had a dead, rotten tree and knew it," explains Georgia Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine.

Another frequent problem is trees or debris that falls onto the yard, or driveway, but does not hit the house or a car.  In other words, it's not "touching" anything.  Will your insurance company pay for that?

Oxendine says unlike when a tree falls on a house, car or even a fence, policies may not pay out.

However, depending on a consumers' coverage, some insurance policies do offer small allowances for debris removal.

But experts say be careful, because that still counts against your total claims and you only get three in three years, plus you'll probably have to pay a deductible that's higher than the allowance.

Johnson say the allowances for debris removal can range from $500 to $700, but the deductible could be $1000.

Another tip for storm victims who are displaced from their homes to remember is that insurance policies will cover living expenses, so it's important to keep a record of all receipts.

If you have complaints or questions regarding insurance coverage in Georgia or Alabama, here's some contact information:

Georgia residents can contact the Insurance Commissioner's Office at 800-656-2298.

Residents in Alabama should call the Alabama Insurance Commissioner's Office at 800-433-3966.