Frequently Asked Questions

  • Insurance Claims
    • Question

      What should I do in the event of a homeowners or commercial property loss?

      Answer

      As soon as possible, contact the company carrying your insurance to report the loss. Keep a record of repair costs and retain receipts for any expenditures. If the loss involves theft or vandalism, notify the police immediately.

    • Question

      What if a storm has damaged my home so severely that I can’t stay in it?

      Answer

      Most homeowners' policies provide coverage for living expenses if you can’t stay in your home. Most policies will reimburse you for “reasonable expenses” over and above your normal living costs (such as lodging, for example, since it’s over and above your mortgage or rent payment) if your home is uninhabitable as a result of a covered peril and you must temporarily relocate. But most policies will reimburse you only for those food expenses over and above what you would normally pay for food.

      You must keep all receipts in order for the expenses to be considered part of the loss. The expenses must be in line with normal living costs and must be a necessary and direct result of the loss. Policies typically limit recovery under “additional living expenses” to a percentage of the amount of coverage on the home itself.

    • Question

      If trees on my property are blown down am I covered?

      Answer

      Many homeowners' policies don’t provide coverage for damage to trees caused by wind. But if a tree falls and damages insured property such as a house or a fence, the damage is almost always covered.

    • Question

      Is there anything I can do to help speed up the claims process?

      Answer

      An adjuster will contact you as soon as possible, but priority will be given to the most severe losses. Larger claims may be settled in stages, not all at once. While you wait for the adjuster to contact you, gather the following:

      • Estimates. Get at least two, preferably three repair estimates for the adjuster to review.
      • Photos. Take photos of the damaged property and gather any pictures showing the property before the loss.
      • Replacement Costs. List all damaged property, including each item’s description, age, original cost, place of purchase, and estimated replacement cost. Include any receipts or canceled checks for these items.
    • Question

      Power was out for a few days and the food in my refrigerator and freezer was spoiled. Is the replacement cost covered?

      Answer

      Most residential policies have a “power failure” exclusion and don’t cover food spoilage that results from power outages.

    • Question

      My stereo and computer equipment were damaged by a power surge. Is that covered?

      Answer

      Probably not. Most homeowners policies provide coverage under “sudden and accidental damage from artificially generated electrical current.” But coverage doesn’t apply to loss of transistors, computer chips, and similar items. So, damage from a power surge wouldn’t be covered for your computer, TV or stereo.

    • Question

      How long after an adjuster reviews my claim should I have to wait to receive a check?

      Answer

      It depends on the cause of the claim. If your claim is an isolated incident, you’re more likely to get a resolution quickly. If your claim is one of many, the claim process is likely to take far longer. You should call back a few days after your interview with the adjuster, to see when they submitted the paperwork to your insurance company. You may also want to contact the insurance company after the adjuster has forwarded them their report.

    • Question

      I’ve just received my claim check and it’s not nearly what I expected. What recourse do I have?

      Answer

      If the check is for an amount that’s lower than you expected, it’s usually because of policy terms that require settlement on an actual cash basis, to be followed by a separate payment for replacement costs when repairs or replacement are completed. Check with Sandy Spring Insurance or with your insurance company.

    • Question

      What’s the difference between actual cash value and replacement-cost coverage?

      Answer

      If the policy indicates that settlement will be on a replacement-cost basis, then payment will be made for the actual cost, at today’s prices, to repair or replace, limited only by the total amount of coverage that was purchased. If the adjustment basis is actual cash value, settlement will be made by determining the replacement cost at today’s prices, less a reasonable amount for depreciation, age, or obsolescence. Some policies provide coverage for the home on a “guaranteed replacement cost” basis, in which case the carrier pays whatever it costs to repair or rebuild the home, regardless of policy limits.