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Insurance agents kept hopping during days following the storm

By Brenda Sexton, The Courier-Herald

The big question on everyone's mind late last week after the Plateau area recovered from high damaging winds, was, "Will insurance cover this?"

The answer for practically everyone is "yes," say local insurance agents.

But policies differ and the first step homeowners who have sustained damage due to the storm should do is contact their agent and do what it takes to prevent further damage.

"The cost of tarping or any kind of action to prevent more damage is still covered," said Del Williams, property development consultant for Mutual of Enumclaw, which has a good hold on homeowners' policies in this area.

As of Friday, Williams' company had 225 claims and he anticipated more to arrive. Of those, he estimated, 25 to 30 were for more than $15,000.

State Farm is another major homeowner policy holder on the Plateau. Enumclaw agent Tony Truax estimated his company would handle between 200 and 250 claims and has already started the process.

He said it's important for policy holders to stay in contact with their agent. He suggested after homeowners prevent further damage, they should begin calling contractors and collecting estimates, but, he cautions, homeowners shouldn't sign any contracts until they've consulted with an agent.

"The hardest part is finding a contractor and getting a good one," Truax said. He said he's already heard the horror stories of folks getting inflated bids or wanting to replace an entire roof when a repair is all that's needed.

Homeowners should also know their deductible. If it's high, a small repair won't be covered anyway.

And some things, like a downed tree that didn't do damage, is the homeowners' responsibility to clean up.

Williams said there's been some confusion surrounding the phrase "act of God." He said the phrase is used for third-party liability. For example, if a tree in your yard falls on the neighbors house it's considered an "act of God." Their homeowners' policy not yours should cover that, but once again, call an agent for verification.

And take photographs if the opportunity arises, especially before a temporary repair.

Williams said he's proud of Mutual of Enumclaw's response. The company brought in additional field adjusters to help handle the additional flow and generators kept the three-story building and its staff operating during the worst of the storm. The cafeteria kept fire fighters and police officers fueled with coffee and the city used the building for an emergency shelter.

Both Williams and Truax reiterated the best source for questions and answers is your own personal insurance agent.

Brenda Sexton can be reached at bsexton@courierherald.com

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