Insurance: Making Claims for Cyclone Damage

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After Cyclone Amphan devastated lives and property in parts of West Bengal and Odisha and Cyclone Nisarga in parts of Maharashtra and Gujarat respectively, the insurance regulator instructed insurers to take immediate steps to alleviate the hardships of affected policyholders by to ensure prompt registration and settlement of eligible claims.

Home and vehicle insurance policyholders must report damage caused by the cyclone to property, durable goods, vehicles, etc. to the insurance company by calling either the zonal office, the toll-free number or by post. The policyholder can also inform the intermediary or submit the claim documents in writing to the local insurance office. If the policyholder cannot find the insurance policy, he must inform the company or the agent. The policyholder must be aware of the terms of the policy, the claim procedure and the amount of claim to which he is entitled or has a deceased relative on his life or property.

Claim instruction by Irdai

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irdai) has instructed insurance companies to appoint a senior officer who would act as the nodal officer for the affected states who would coordinate the receipt, processing and settlement of all eligible claims. The details of offices/special camps set up for this purpose must be disclosed through the company’s website, the media and through state government channels to enable claims to be made. The regulator has determined that all claims will be investigated immediately, that a sufficient number of inspectors will be engaged and that claim payments are made as soon as possible. With the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the regulator has urged insurers to encourage policyholders to use electronic communications for correspondence whenever possible while declaring the claim and submitting all relevant documents.

Home insurance claims

Home insurance covers natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, cyclones, fire and man-made incidents such as robberies. Home insurance covers both construction and household goods. A policyholder can declare the costs of repairing the damage in the construction of the building and furniture, electronics, clothing, etc. In the claim form, the policyholder must provide personal information such as name, address, etc. to the claim. An appraiser from the insurance company assesses the damage and the amount of the damage is determined.

Ideally, one should keep all household items as they are after the cyclone or flood so that the adjuster can inspect the affected site or damaged property. If the policyholder is not satisfied with the insurer’s assessment of the damage, he must insist that the insurance company assess the assessment before signing the claims settlement discharge voucher.

A policyholder should always read the fine print of a home insurance policy that lists all exclusions from coverage. After assessing all your household effects, always choose the correct insured amount. Underinsured coverage does not help much and in the event of a calamity you have to bear the financial burden yourself.

Motor insurance claims

If a policyholder has comprehensive motor insurance, damage caused by cyclone, flooding is covered. If the car has been submerged, do not start the engine, as the insurance company will not pay for damages if the owner tries to start the vehicle’s engine in a waterlogged condition and damages it. Ideally, the policyholder should take a photo of the vehicle submerged in water and show it to the inspector when making the claim. Under the comprehensive policy, the full cost of all mechanical work is covered except damage to plastic parts, upholstery, etc. In order to make the auto insurance claim, the policyholder must inform the insurer with name, telephone number and the policy details. After the claim has been submitted, the expert will visit and assess the damage. The insurance company will have the vehicle towed to a network garage for repair and cashless claims.

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