HAIL!! Should I File a Hail Claim?

KC Keith

KC Keith

Post written by KC Keith, Vice President/General Manager at Stockman Insurance

Should I file a hail claim on my home?

Or, should a contractor inspect it first?

Those are the two questions we hear most often after a hail storm.

According to Safeco, “Hailstorms cause approximately $1 billion in damage every year, according to the National Storm Damage Center.

Depending on the intensity of the storm, hailstones can range from dime-sized to softball-sized stones and fall in random patterns due to gusty winds.

Damage can vary considerably, from one property to the next, due to factors such as:

  • Wind: Hailstones are driven by wind and often strike the roof at an angle.
  • Roof Position: The slopes of the roof facing the storm usually suffer the most damage.
  • Roof Age: Older roofs are more susceptible to hail damage due to granular wear.
  • Size and Pattern: Hailstones usually fall in random patterns and size.

Due to all this, there’s no one-size-fits-all claims decision in an area impacted by hail – even for two homes right next to one another.”

That’s why insurance companies send a field adjuster to look at the home for possible damage.

The adjuster will physically look at the home and roof. A fresh hail dent on your roof will appear black from the newly exposed asphalt, and there may be dents to air conditioner fans, vents, and rain gutters.

roof tiles

People often wonder if they should file a claim right away, or wait until the hail season is over just in case there is another storm.

It’s a good idea to contact your agent and notify them of possible damage.

If you aren’t sure that there’s damage, the company can send an adjuster out to take a look.

You should not be charged a surcharge for filing a claim if there turns out to be no damage and the company pays nothing.

Scheduling repairs can take time, and the contractors usually prioritize according to the amount of damage and need for repair.

The most important thing to remember is to stay safe and make sure you mitigate any further losses.

If a storm breaks a window or damages your roof and causes a leak, you must make temporary repairs to stop more damage from happening.

Save your receipts so you can turn them into your agent, who will then forward them on to the insurance company for you. The insurance company will deal with the contractor to come to an agreement on repair costs.

You, as an insured, should never have to be caught in the middle of the negotiations.  All “supplemental” or additional costs of repair need to be authorized by the company prior to being done. If they aren’t, the company can deny those charges.

During the claim process, be sure to check with your agent if you have questions or if something that an adjuster tells you doesn’t sound right.  The agent can always call the company to get clarification.

One last thing to keep in mind; if a storm downs a power line, always assume the line is live, or hot. Stay clear of it, and notify the utility company so they can send out a repair crew and block off the area to avoid injuries.

Give any of us at Stockman Insurance a call if you have any questions. We’re here to help!

Insurance Disclosure

Unlocking the Mystery of Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Two Drivers Arguing After Traffic AccidentPost written by Marcy Parks, Stockman Insurance Officer Manager

What do Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury and Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury mean on my Personal Auto Policy?

And if my agent says they aren’t mandatory coverages and I can save money by “rejecting” them, why would I want to pay for them?

Are they necessary?

The purpose of Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury (UM) and Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury (UIM) are to allow insureds to collect from their own insurance company, that which they should have been able to collect from the negligent uninsured or underinsured third party.

In other words, if someone hits your car and causes bodily injury to you or others who are in your car, and the person who hit you either has no insurance or less than enough to pay for your medical bills, your policy should kick in.

In addition, UM/UIM also covers you while on a bicycle or as a pedestrian.

Why would I want this coverage if I already have health insurance?

UM/UIM covers more than just medical bills. It should also cover compensatory damages such as pain, suffering, loss of relationship for a spouse or child, and lost wages while injured or due to death.

Coverages and Exclusions vary by policy, so please be sure to read your policy or talk to your agent. Aside from not covering lost wages, health insurance usually has a deductible and a co-pay, and some health insurance policies exclude auto accidents as covered losses.

Stressed Driver Sitting At Roadside After Traffic AccidentUninsured Motorist Bodily Injury liability (UM) coverage kicks in if the person driving the vehicle that caused the bodily injury isn’t insured, or their limits are less than the state required minimum limits where your covered auto is garaged.

Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury liability (UIM) language in the policy differs by company. It’s important to read your policy or visit with your agent to find out what triggers this coverage in your policy.

Some policies state that UIM kicks in only if the injuries are caused by a motorist whose bodily injury liability limits are less than the injured person’s auto policy UM/UIM.

So if someone carries UIM limits of $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident, and the driver who caused the accident has the same limits or higher for his Bodily Injury Liability, there is no coverage.

Some policies state that UIM kicks in if the negligent driver’s Bodily Injury Liability limits are not enough to cover the damages caused by the accident.

The bottom line is, UM/UIM are very important coverages and quite reasonably priced. Stockman Insurance agents can answer any questions you might have regarding this, and make it a priority to be sure you understand your policy and have the right protection you need.  Contact an agent today for more information.

To reach a Stockman Insurance agent near you, call our toll-free number 1-866-441-8485. We have offices in Miles City, Conrad, Glendive, Richey, Worden, Great Falls, Billings, Helena, Stanford, and Missoula.

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Cyber Liability…It’s Not Just for Big Business!

Amy Schott

Amy Schott

Post written by Amy Schott, Account Manager for Stockman Insurance in Missoula

Cyber liability may be one of the newer products on the insurance market, but it’s one that we at Stockman Insurance strongly encourage business owners not to overlook.

The aftermath of a cyber attack can be detrimental to a business if you’re not properly covered.

This type of policy protects your business against data losses caused by cyber-attacks, viruses, and other threats.

Cyber liability, in general, is the risk posed by conducting business over the Internet, over other networks or using electronic storage technology.

Insurance can be purchased and “risk-based” security strategies can be used to mitigate against both the first and third party risks caused by cyber liability.

Do you think your business is too small or couldn’t possibly be exposed to a cyber liability exposure? Think again.

No matter how large or small your business is, if you’re keeping ANY sort of personally identifiable information regarding your customers or employees, your business could be at risk.

According to the 2017 Cyber Claims Study done by NetDiligence, “companies with less than $50M in revenue were the most impacted, accounting for 47% of the claims”.

The same 2017 NetDiligence study found that “the average total breach cost was $349,000”. That size of loss could break most small businesses.

It’s the goal of Stockman Insurance to make sure you have the proper coverage in place to avoid a massive setback of that size or worse…a business ending loss.

Like all other lines of insurance coverage, there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.

Depending on who you’re storing the information for (yourself, your clients or both) will help determine which type of policy is the best fit to protect you and your business.

Not all policies are equal, but Stockman Insurance agents are determined to find you the most effective and affordable cyber liability solution. Whether your business is big or small, cyber liability is your defense against a cyber attack!

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Umbrella 600

What is a Personal Umbrella Policy…and Why Would You Need or Want One? 

Winter drivingPost written by Marcy Parks, Stockman Insurance Office Manager

One day I was driving to Billings and the roads were slushy and there were patches of ice on the interstate.

While passing a semi truck hauling cars, I thought about just how far my $100,000 property damage limit on my auto policy would go if I were to slide into him and cause an accident.

The answer? Not very far.

I went back to the office and immediately issued myself a personal umbrella policy.

Since then I’ve done the same for my adult children and my mother, and I highly recommend the same to my clients.

What is a Personal Umbrella Policy, and why would you need or want one?

A Personal Umbrella Policy provides higher limits of liability coverage over and above your other policies, such as Homeowners, Auto, Motorcycle, Boat, etc. If an accident happens, once the liability limits of the underlying policy are reached, the umbrella policy kicks in.

None of us want to imagine that we would be the cause of an accident that might hurt someone else or damage their property. We all want to know that if the unimaginable happens, our insurance policy will pay for the damage we cause.

I had a person tell me recently that she has her adult children carry minimum limits of liability because they don’t own anything of value that they could lose in a lawsuit. What about their future earnings?

Just because a person doesn’t have insurance doesn’t mean they aren’t responsible to pay for the damages they cause.

In Montana, the state requires minimum liability limits of $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident for bodily injury, and $20,000 for property damage.

Think about how many vehicles are on the road today that cost more than $20,000. Think about the cost of an ambulance ride, emergency room visit, or hospital stay.  How far would $25,000 go?

Take a look at your insurance policies. What are your liability limits? Ask your agent to quote higher limits and a personal umbrella for you. You just might be surprised how affordable the extra coverage is.

To reach a Stockman Insurance agent near you, call our toll-free number 1-866-441-8485. We have offices in Miles City, Conrad, Glendive, Richey, Worden, Great Falls, Billings, Helena, Stanford, and Missoula.

Insurance Disclosure

Bed with tray and flowers

A Sharing Economy. Vacation Rental.

 Kelin JohnsonPost written by Kelin Johnson, Producer/Agent Stockman Insurance

In recent years we’ve seen the rise of the phenomenon known as the sharing economy or collaborative consumption. Collaborative consumption allows consumers to share access to products or services, rather than having individual ownership.

Whether you’ve participated or not, you’re likely familiar with some of the bigger names in this industry: Airbnb, FlipKey, HomeAway, VRBO. The impact is vast and, for perspective, Airbnb now boasts of 2 million listings in 34,000 cities across 191 countries.

In 2015 the market’s potential growth was underscored by Expedia’s acquisition of HomeAway, at a cost of $3.9 billion. The industry has made such a significant impact that politicians are getting involved.

They’re citing concerns such as communities and consumers being at risk through violations of sensible health, safety and zoning regulations under state and local law. Among the issues being debated is the topic of insurance coverage.

Insurance is the allocation of risk for a specified financial compensation. The challenge for insurance companies is determining the propensity for loss and an appropriate premium to offset the risk. Without prior data, the majority of insurance companies stay as far away as possible and exclude any related activity. Thus, the market for residential sharing insurance products is very narrow.

By definition, a short-term/vacation rental is defined as any residential structure that is rented on terms less than 30 days.

With respect to the owner of the property

The property owner is exposed to the risk of their property being damaged and also liability for personal negligence. The tenant could cause damage to the property or commit theft of the owner’s personal belongings. Many of the short-term rental companies offer coverage for these situations but have significant limitations such as property damage caps of $50,000 (and differ greatly across each platform).

In the event of a total loss, a coverage cap of that size will force the owner to look at their primary insurance for indemnification. That assistance will only be applicable if the home is insured properly. Though the market for this type of policy is narrow and likely has additional costs, they are available.

In terms of liability, there are numerous preceding cases of discrimination and bodily injury. In terms of cost, liability claims can far exceed property damage claims and settle well into the millions. A standard home or landlord policy won’t cover these types of claims. Even if the owner has a personal liability umbrella policy, the claim will be denied because the risk has converted to commercial exposure.

It’s important for a homeowner to understand that their standard home insurance ceases to provide coverage as soon as any revenue is generated. A landlord/rental policy will deny coverage when the terms change to less than 30 days. Claims representatives are searching the web as soon as a claim is submitted and denials are immediately issued if the address comes up on any vacation rental site.

With respect to the short-term renter

Bed with tray and flowersWhether you’re a homeowner or renter, the good news is that the liability associated with your homeowners or renters insurance will likely extend to the short-term rental, but is your coverage enough?

If an individual has a renter’s policy with a $300,000 liability limit and they’re negligent for a fire that takes a $1,000,000 home, clearly there’s a significant gap.

The owner may submit a claim and have their home rebuilt, but this situation would be far from over. The owners’ insurance company is likely to subrogate or file a lawsuit against that negligent renter. That’s not a good position to be in.

The positive is that insurance companies want and need to adapt to accommodate this market as it is only going to grow from here.

Emerging risks are often opportunities for companies to step in and be the leader in a new product. They’re accumulating data and research on necessary coverages and prior claims so they know what consumers need and what premium to charge to maintain profitability.

Over the last couple weeks, I’ve been reaching out to some owners of short-term rentals in Missoula. I went on one of the popular sites and contacted 20 people who were renting out either a room in their home or the entire home.

Of the 20 people contacted, only three had discussed the issue with their agent and made changes to their standard home insurance. 85% of the sampled audience is putting themselves and their tenants at risk.

I’ll end this with some questions that should be considered when using a vacation rental. These are questions you may be facing without even knowing it.

  • If the property owner’s insurance denies a claim and you don’t have any insurance that applies, who pays the damages?
  • If you don’t have home or renters insurance and are negligent for a fire in one of these rented properties, how do you pay for it?
  • What if you rent out your primary or secondary residence for a weekend and there’s a crime that takes place there. Who’s liable?
  • Lastly, if you rent out your home for a week and the tenant burns down the house but you’ve neglected to adjust your insurance, who pays to rebuild? What if the tenant can’t pay the judgement?

If you hear of anyone who may be renting their property on this platform, I’m certain they would be happy to get more information. We want to help you enjoy your life by not taking a step backward but by being prepared for the unexpected.

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