While power outages across Aiken County are dropping, insurance claims are rising due to ice storm damage.

Resident tips for storm damage:

- Contact insurance agent/producer or company as soon as possible

- Drive with caution

- When filing a homeowner’s claim, document damage

- Secure properties and make temporary repairs

- Keep all receipts for materials used for repairs

- courtesy of the S.C. Department of Insurance

State Farm Insurance agent Denny Michaelis said since last week, his staff received at least 150 calls or more and documented about 100 to 120 claims.

S.C. Department of Insurance to hold public meeting

The S.C. Department of Insurance will hold a public meeting for Aiken County residents who suffered damages as a result of the recent winter storm.

Consumer analysts will be available today and Thursday, Feb. 20 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Aiken County Council Chambers, located at 736 Richland Avenue.

For more information, call 803-737-6207

“It started primarily as homeowner claims like trees on houses,” Michaelis said. “Now trees are falling and a lot of automobile claims are being made from trees crashing down on cars ... but the vast majority are homeowners claims.”

If residents do have damage to their home, they need to take pictures and make temporary repairs if possible. Not all claims are deductible. Yard cleanup isn’t typically part of an insurance policy, unless there is property damage. Also with power loss, many lost food in their refrigerators and freezers. However, not all losses can be covered, according to Michaelis.

“Most residents may have a deductible with a minimum $500 or an average $1,000,” Michaelis said. “You can buy a lot of food for $1,000 ... It’s a loss, but if it doesn’t meet or exceed a deductible, then filing might not help.”

Ray Farmer, director of the S.C. Department of Insurance, said due to the storms in the past two weeks, insurance companies should already be covered up with claims.

“When Gov. Nikki Haley declared this as an emergency, I was able to declare about the same thing (Notice of Emergency Insurance Declaration),” Farmer said. “What that did for us is allow us to have adjusters from other states to come in and help citizens. We should have a sufficient number of adjusters to help citizens.”

In a January press release, Farmer said due to the sub-freezing temperatures earlier in the month, the storm caused about $20 million in damages to homes and businesses throughout the state. But Farmer said the number is likely to rise. While agents are there for residents to make claims and contractors are ready to work, Farmer warned residents should be very aware of who they hire to do the job.

“I would caution citizens to be careful who they contract with,” Farmer said. “Contract with someone you know. We do have employment numbers on our website. But please, use common sense.”

Maayan Schechter is the city beat reporter with Aiken Standard. Follow her on Twitter