BILLINGS — After Sunday's hail storm ripped through the Billings area, local insurance agents are offering advice to home owners to help them make decisions to pay for repairs storm damage.
Most important, says Payne West Insurance Sales Director Brian Daubert, is to stay calm and avoid hasty decisions.
"You don't need to get in a rush and do something that you might regret later on," Daubert said. "Take your time. Make sure you are asking your agent plenty of questions. Make sure you are getting a full assessment of the damage to your property and autos. And then getting back in touch with your agent and making sure that you are making a good decision going forward."
The first step: take pictures of damage before making repairs.
Next, take steps to prevent further damage to the property, like covering broken windows or holes in the roof.
Every situation is different, but local agents say it's a good idea to get a damage assessment through a local contractor before filing a claim.
The damage assessment will allow the homeowner to better understand the extent of the damage, and how much it will cost to repair.
Next, the homeowner should talk with their insurance agent to see whether it is worthwhile to file a claim. To figure that out, the homeowner must understand their deductible.
If the cost to repair the damage is less than the homeowner's deductible, it may be a smarter move to not file a claim and instead pay for the repairs out of pocket.
Daubert said it is important to ask your agent about the ramifications of filing a claim, such as higher premiums or possibly losing coverage.
Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance Matt Rosendale offered more tips in a Facebook post Monday.