Our Chicago: Recovering from recent storms after 13 tornado touchdowns, flooding

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Sunday, July 16, 2023
Our Chicago: Recovering from recent storms Part 1
Dana Popish Severinghaus, Director of the Illinois Department of Insurance, speaks with ABC7 about what to do if you are recovering from storm damage after this past week.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Over the course of just a couple of hours on Wednesday night, more than 10 tornadoes touched down in the Chicago area.

They damaged homes and businesses in places such as Cicero, Huntley, Elgin, Barrington and Long Grove. There were more storms just two nights later.

And two weeks ago, up to 8 inches of rain fell on parts of Chicago and neighboring suburbs flooding homes. Now, people are cleaning up, making repairs and working their way through the process of filing a claim with their insurance companies.

"Generally, wind and hail damage as the result of a tornado are generally covered in a standard homeowner's policy. But it's really important to note that flood coverage is additional and generally not standard to most homeowners policies and is often purchased as an additional policy. So, if you just went through this and perhaps your neighbor had flooding and you didn't, now would be a really good time to take a look at your own coverage and revisit that and see if it might be a good time to add that coverage onto your own policy," said Dana Popish Severinghaus, Director of the Illinois Department of Insurance.

For those who have complaints about their insurance company or public adjuster, the Illinois Department of Insurance can help. The department helps regulate insurance companies and public adjusters.

"If you're having an issue with any one of those groups, we urge you to keep good information about the communication that you've had, the conversations that you've had, dates, time, the nature of the conversation," says Popish Severinghaus, "You can either call our consumer assistance line the number is 866-445-5364. We have insurance analysts available that can help answer your question. If you'd like to file a complaint, you have to do that on our website."

BBB President and CEO Steve Bernas how scammers and other con artists try to prey on people recovering from storm damage.

Another concern after a natural disaster, is scams. Steve Bernas president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau, said there are some things to watch for when hiring someone to do repairs.

"The red flags are that too good to be true offer, they can do it quickly and for a price that undercuts everybody else. And those are the stormchasers. They come in, they make shoddy workmanship, they're not licensed and this way they charge a lot less," Bernas said.

Bernas said the most important this is to research a business before hiring them to do the work. The BBB wants people to make sure they're dealing with a local, licensed contractor. And be sure the business is licensed and insured. He also says you need to have a written contract for the work. Illinois law requires it for projects over a thousand dollars,

"But the Better Business Bureau recommends getting a contract for everything and everything spelled out in there. Whatever the contractor's promised otherwise it's hearsay and it can't be proven anywhere," he said.

Bernas said the contract should also include the start date, the end date and how much money is due at the start, and how much in the middle and how much in the end. And he advises people to never pay for the full job up front.