Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Consumer alert: What you should know about winter storm damage

A winter storm has hit Washington state hard, with record levels of snowfall in Western Washington and it may not be over yet. Forecasts call for continuing rain or rain/snow mix and possible freezing temperatures overnight in some areas.
A state trooper helps a motorist dig out
after sliding off the road on Highway 3 on Feb. 11.
Photo courtesy Washington State Patrol

Here are some tips about winter storm prevention and damage.


Auto damage

If you have comprehensive coverage, your policy should cover any damage caused by trees, ice or other weather-related mishaps. The amount of your deductible may sway your decision to file a claim, depending on how much damage there is.

A good way to avoid a weather-related collision to is leave yourself plenty of time to arrive at your destination and drive slowly. Get real-time tips from Washington State Patrol.

Also, it’s a good idea to park your vehicle in a protected area or away from trees that can damage it.

Boats and RVs

Be sure to check your boat and/or RV is you are storing one outside. Boats moored in marinas need to be checked, as the weight of ice and snow can sink a boat.

Snow/ice

The prolonged weight of ice and snow on buildings can lead to collapse or cause the roof to crack and let moisture in the home. Sometimes these cracks are not apparent, and may not be seen for a few weeks to a few months.

Another issue to be aware of is frozen gutters. If water collects in them and it freezes, it can cause damage to the house. Those claims can be contentious because sometimes the damage isn’t found until much later, so it’s hard to prove what actually caused the damage. To be on the safe side, clear debris from gutters so water doesn’t collect and freeze.

If it is not safe to remove snow or clean gutters, consider hiring a licensed and bonded contractor to do the work.

Snow melt

Some areas of the state are experiencing a rapid snow melt, which is good but may also cause problems for some people. Homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover flood damage. You would need a flood insurance policy, which has a 30-day waiting period to kick in. So if you don’t have a flood policy and you experience flood damage, you won’t be covered.

Here are some tips for avoiding flooding on your property:
  • Pile snow in a place that won’t cause water to flood any buildings as it melts. 
  • Try to clear out accessible down spouts and storm drains to prevent backups and overflows. 
  • If any of these activities are unsafe, you may want consider hiring a licensed and bonded contractor to do the work. 
Read more about winter weather and insurance considerations. Questions? Contact our insurance experts.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Kreidler helped consumers recover $15.9 million in 2018

Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has a dedicated team of people who help Washington consumers with their insurance questions and  problems every business day of the year.



Here's how we helped more than 82,000 consumers in 2018:
  • Received and processed 6,779 consumer complaints, resulting in the recovery of $15,916,013 for consumers related to insurance billings, refunds and various claim-handling issues
  • Answered 73,983 calls to our consumer hotline regarding insurance issues, rights and responsibilities
  • Answered 2,013 live chat insurance-related questions from consumers 
  • Responded to 5,408 written consumer inquiries
  • Mailed 1,725 insurance-related publications to consumers upon their request
  • Made 1,105 in-person contacts with consumers at public outreach events
  • Helped consumers resolve various policy issues, including claims, billing, and underwriting problems, and offered referral services to other state agencies and organizations, including the Washington Health Benefit Exchange
If you have an insurance question or complaint, contact us online or call us: 1-800-562-6900

Friday, January 4, 2019

Kreidler revokes Washougal agent’s license when she leaves her client uninsured

Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler revoked the license of Washougal insurance agent Jacqueline Cone last month when her client was left on the hook for $12,000 in damage after an auto collision.

Cone sold a Farmers Insurance auto insurance policy to a friend in 2017. The friend set up payments through her debit card, but told investigators that she switched to cash payments. In August 2017, Farmers canceled the policy because they never received the premium payments from the agent. In October 2017, the policyholder filed a claim with Farmers after a collision and was told that she was no longer insured. The company had mailed several cancellation notices but the policyholder said she moved and never received them.

The agent and the policyholder both told investigators that the cash payments had been made, but could not prove it. The agent told Farmers she accidentally applied the cash premium payments to the wrong person’s policy. Either way, the agent’s action violates state insurance laws. Farmers fired Cone in April 2018 and Kreidler’s regulatory investigation resulted in revocation of her license to sell insurance in Washington state.

Here are some tips for consumers:

  • Pay your premiums in a way that leaves a record or paper trail. You want to be able to prove you paid your premiums. 
  • Pay your premiums directly to your insurer – you can set up monthly, biannual or annual premium payments for just about every type of insurance out there. Set it up to come directly out of your bank account or billed automatically to your credit card. There is less chance of a mishap if you cut out the middleman – in this case, the agent. 
  • Set up email notifications from your insurer. If there’s an app, make sure your phone is set to receive notifications via the app as well. You don’t want to miss notifications from your insurer that they haven’t received your premium payments. 
  • It’s your responsibility to make sure your insurer gets your premium payments. 

Kreidler regulates the insurance industry in Washington state. Each month, he takes enforcement action  against insurance companies, agents, brokers and others in the industry and publishes a news release with those orders. You can sign up to receive email or text alerts with news from Kreidler.