KENTUCKY (WEHT) – While clean-up efforts from the December 10 storms are well underway, AAA reminds home and vehicle owners to avoid clean up and repair scams by working with their insurance company directly. Consumers should also understand their insurance policies to know what type of damage is covered. 

In terms of submitting home and auto claims, people who are insured through AAA can call 1-866-222-2378 (1-866-AAA-BEST) for claims assistance. “Through the chaos of major events like this past weekend’s tornado, you don’t want to fall prey to bad actors who want to take advantage of your vulnerability,” says Jonathon King, vice president of insurance sales, AAA East Central. “Stay vigilant to protect yourself and your identity, and let a professional insurance advisor guide you through the next steps forward.”

To avoid repair or clean-up scams, be cautious of door-to-door representatives. If people choose to work with an independent business, they are encouraged to remember the following:

  • For consumers, they should call their insurance adjuster to get an estimate of the damage before making repairs.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau for any complaints about the company.
  • Get the company representative’s license plate number.
  • Never pay in-full for repairs up front.
  • Get an agreement in writing.

What people should do after a tornado hits:

  • They should never use a generator inside homes or in any enclosed area. Even with open doors and using fans, deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up and linger for hours, even after the generator has shut off.
  • Continue listening to a radio or TV for the latest updates.
  • Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding.
  • Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges. Stay off the streets and be on the lookout for fallen objects, downed electrical wires and weakened walls, bridges, roads and sidewalks.
  • If people have evacuated, they should return home only when officials say it is safe.
  • Go outside their house and check for structural damage, loose power lines, gas leaks and other damage before entering. Stay out of any building if gas is smelled, if floodwaters remain around the building or if it was damaged by fire. Have the residence inspected by a qualified building inspector or structural engineer before entering if anyone has any doubts about safety.
  • When dark, do NOT use candles; use battery-powered flashlights. The flashlight should be turned on outside before entering as the battery could ignite leaking gases.
  • Watch out for wild animals, especially poisonous snakes.
  • Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until it is certain that it is not contaminated.
  • Check refrigerator for spoiled food. When in doubt, throw it out.
  • When cleaning up, be cautious and always wear protective clothing.
  • Check for injuries. Do not attempt to move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of death or further injury.
  • Take pictures of damage, both of owned buildings and their contents, for insurance purposes.

Some of AAA’s tips are:

  • Photograph the home, paying special attention to the kitchen, bathrooms, windows, doors and personal property of high, unusual or sentimental value. In the event of a catastrophic loss, photographs will help determine the value of damaged fixtures, appliances, floors, and other parts of the structure covered by a policyholder’s policy.
  • Homeowners are encouraged to hold onto repair receipts and store them in a safe place.
  • Make sure one is fully aware of what protection their insurance policy provides. For homeowner policies, find out if they offer building code upgrade and extended replacement cost coverage. Homeowners may not have adequate protection against catastrophic damage if their policy’s limits translate into higher out-of-pocket costs.
  • Report losses to the insurance company as soon as possible so they can assist with emergency or temporary repairs. Immediate reporting of losses allows the claims adjuster to investigate the damage before repairs are completed or items are replaced. Claims filed after repairs are made or items are replaced can result in delays for receiving reimbursement from your insurance company.
  • Claims adjusters are working as quickly as possible to respond to members who have damage to their properties, but keep in mind, hazardous road conditions may cause some delays.