Allstate tells residents how to check for damage after tornado

STEVENSVILLE, Md. – Officials say that  tornado touched down on Monday in towns along Maryland’s Eastern Shore. People throughout the local community are beginning the process of picking up the pieces.

For those with damage from the tornado and severe weather, Allstate says that you should be very careful when returning home. Once it is safe to do so, homeowners should carefully inspect their homes for signs of damage, paying particular attention to the following areas:

•    Look for wall cracks in spots where there weren’t cracks before. Cracks of a quarter inch or more are signs walls may have shifted or settled. Look carefully around windows and doors because these are typically the weakest spots in a home’s construction. Look outdoors for visible, new cracks in the home’s foundation.

•    Look indoors for changes in the levelness of floors. Officials say that changes in the level of the floor could be signs of a lift in the home’s foundation.

•    Make sure to closely check rooms not regularly used.

•    Inspect plumbing. Look closely around the water heater and or water softener for signs of water leaks that were not there before. Flush all toilets, turn on all of the water faucets, and check connecting pipes for any leaking water.

•    In the days or weeks after a tornado, check walls and ceilings for water stains or yellowing that did not exist before. It could show roof damage.

•    Carefully inspect the outside gutters. Damaged gutters could cause water damage inside the home long after the actual gutter damage occurs.

Allstate policyholders that suspect their home may have sustained damage during the recent storms can begin the claim process by contacting their Allstate Agency Owner, dialing 1-800-54-STORM (1-800-547-8676) or visiting this website.

Following strong storms and a tornado that damaged homes in Queen Anne’s County this week, many residents could be asking “Will my homeowners insurance pay for the damage.”

Insurance commissioner Al Redmer Jr. says that each homeowner should view their homeowners policy or find out what policy their insurance company does and does not cover. Homeowners should also find out what the policy deductible is, and any dollar limits on the amount of damage the policy will cover.

Officials say that Queen Anne’s County residents can follow these ideas to help with any insurance claims that they may file:
• Call your insurance company or agent immediately.
• Take pictures or video footage of any damage.
• If you have to move, even for a moment, make sure your insurance company or agent knows how to reach you.
• Before you take away any damaged property from the premises, be sure an insurance adjuster or your agent has looked at it first.
• Keep all receipts for emergency repairs and for temporarily living expenses.
• Make only those repairs needed to stop any further damage to your home or business. Do not make permanent repairs without talking with your agent or company, as unauthorized repairs may not be able to be paid back.
• Get estimates of the damage to the property from at least two licensed contractors, if available. Check with the Home Improvement Commission to confirm that they are licensed. They can be reached at (410) 230-6309 or (888) 218-5925.
• Make a detailed list of all damaged property.
• If your insurance company denies any part of your claim, keep all of the paperwork they send you. If your area is declared a disaster by the federal government, you may be qualified to file for federal relief by providing that proof. Residents can also file a complaint with the Insurance Administration: 410-468-2340 or by visiting this website.
• If you hire a public adjuster, understand that your insurance company does not have to follow what a public adjuster determines to be your loss.
• Read your policy carefully so you understand what is covered and what is not.

For more information, visit the Maryland Insurance Administration’s website. Look for the link to “Insurance Preparedness for Natural Disasters”, under “Hot Topics.”

Even though the terms of your actual policy will find out if the damage you have incurred is covered, officials say that generally many homeowners policies will:
• “Provide coverage for damage to your home and the contents of your home if a tree (even if it is your neighbor’s tree) falls on your home or other insured structure, such as a fence or a detached garage. If your neighbor’s tree was dead and the neighbor knew it was dead, then your homeowners insurance company may seek reimbursement from your neighbor for the claim. This is called, “subrogation.” Remember though, that the amount of coverage will be determined by your policy’s dollar limits. Your homeowners policy may also pay a limited amount (usually between $500 and $1,000) to remove the tree from your property. The amount paid for tree removal is typically based on the event and not the number of trees that fall. This means that you will receive the same amount of money whether one tree falls or if 10 trees fall.
• Provide some coverage for the cost of tree removal. Many policies pay a limited amount (usually between $500 and $1,000) to remove the tree(s) from your property, whether the tree damages an insured structure or just falls in your yard. The amount paid for tree removal is typically based on the event and not the number of trees that fall. This means that you will receive the same amount of money whether just one tree falls, or if 10 trees fall.
• Provide some coverage for damage to your trees, shrubs or plants in certain very limited circumstances, such as fire, lightning or vandalism; damage from snow, ice or wind is generally not covered. Generally, the amount that your homeowners policy will pay is limited to 5% of the coverage of the structure (this is called your Coverage A), and is capped at $500 for any one item.
• Not provide coverage for damage to your car if the tree falls on it. If you have comprehensive coverage on your automobile though, then your automobile policy may pay for the damage.”

Additionally, officials say that your local municipality may arrange for debris removal after a major storm that affects a large area. Watch for information in the newspaper or listen to the radio for details. If there is debris removal by a government jurisdiction, you may need to sign a Right of Entry form granting permission to come onto your property and take away the debris. Before the debris is removed, you should take a picture of all damaged property because your policy will likely make you prove your loss.

You should review your insurance policy annually to make sure that you have the appropriate coverage. For more information regarding your homeowners insurance policy, read the Maryland Insurance Administration’s  information about homeowners and renters insurance located on their website.

Delmarva Power says that crews worked around the clock to bring back power to more than 8,700 customers in less than a day after the devastating E-F two tornado that affected Stevensville early Monday morning.

Crews and support personnel are working to bring back power to about 70 customers and they say that they will not stop until service has been restored to all. Based on the current damage, officials say that the remaining customers whose premises can safely accept electric service are set to be restored by 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday night.

Winds in excess of 125 miles per hour brought down trees, tore off roofs and caused a lot of damage to Delmarva Power’s electric distribution system. Crews, working through the night, replaced ten, 90 foot transmission utility poles and dozens of smaller wooden electric distribution poles, re-strung thousands of feet of overhead electric wire and replaced other essential equipment to rebuild the local electric system.

Gary Stockbridge, Delmarva Power region president says, “Our crews will continue to work around the clock to restore service to every last customer impacted by yesterday’s devastating tornado. We thank our customers for their continued patience during this major restoration effort.”

Local residents got meals and accomodations at a shelter provided by Queen Anne’s County Department of Social Services, who partnered with the American Red Cross.

Customers should assume that any downed wires are energized. They ask customers to stay away from and report any downed wires. To report an outage or downed wire, people can call 1-800-898-8042 or report and track an outage through their mobile app and on their website.

Find additional information here, on Facebook and on Twitter. The Delmarva Power app is available here.

A severe weather event, an E-F two tornado which was confirmed by the National Weather Service went through Stevensville in the Bay City area around 1:30 AM on Monday.

Officials say that all searches were completed for life threats and injuries. There was only one minor injury throughout this event.

Ice and bottled water distribution was reportedly set up at Matapeake Elementary School. Verizon also set up a charging station at Matapeake Elementary School.

The emergency shelter at Centreville Middle School closed to residents at noon. Kent Island Fire Department is not accepting donations.

According to Delmarva Power, crews will not stop service has been restored to about 70 remaining customers. They are expected to be restored on Tuesday night.

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