FLOOD INSURANCE: Most policies must be in effect 30 days prior to an event that causes flooding. Review your homeowners policy with your agent. Most standard homeowners policies do not cover flood damage and, in some coastal areas, windstorm coverage is also excluded from the standard policy.

INVENTORY: Make a list of your belongings and record them (photos or videotape). Include a close-up shot of the day's newspaper. Keep your inventory list along with purchase receipts, pictures and your insurance policy in a safe-deposit box or other safe place away from your home.

Fire and extended coverage policies, homeowners policies and farmowners policies cover fire and lightning, wind or hail, but NOT flood or rising water damage.

Contact your insurance agent as quickly as possible and ask for instructions on what to do until your adjuster arrives. Be sure to follow the company's instructions when making your claim.

Protect your property from further damage. Your reasonable expenses to protect your property are part of the loss and will be reimbursed by your insurance company. Keep your receipts.

Do not have permanent repairs made until your insurance company has inspected the property and you have reached an agreement on the cost of repairs. The company has a legal right to inspect the property in its damaged condition and may refuse to pay you for any damage repaired before it has been inspected.

If you think that the estimate of the insurance company is too low, you may wish to obtain an estimate from your own contractor. A contractor may charge a fee for this service; but usually if he or she does the repair work, the fee will be credited to your bill.

Fallen trees: Most companies will pay to have trees removed from the damaged structure, such as your home, garage or fence, but will not pay to remove the tree from your yard.

Most homeowners' policies cover damages to appliances that result from a power surge when power is restored to your home. Some electronic components may not be covered.

Most homeowners' policies cover food which spoils due to power loss only if the individual feeder line to your home is down, not in instances of widespread power failure. However, you can be covered in the event of widespread power failure if you purchased a "Refrigerated Property Coverage" endorsement. This endorsement allows up to $500 in coverage, with a $100 deductible.

If you have questions or problems concerning your insurance coverage, contact the Consumer Services Division of the NC Department of Insurance toll-free, (800) 546-5664 or (919) 733-2032.

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