SALT LAKE CITY — Violent wind storms have left tens of thousands of people without electricity for periods of time, toppled trees and damages homes along the Wasatch Front. Now, many homeowners are facing further challenges as they grapple with homeowner insurance most of them probably thought they would never have to use.

Utah homeowners inundated with immediate concerns such as finding shelter or hot water should take a minute to step back and assess the damage to their homes. Many insurance policies place a time limit on filing claims, and a few minutes now can save a world of headache later.

Also important to the claims process is documenting the property damage. Photos, videos and written descriptions of damage will all assist the insurance company in processing the claim. Also helpful are receipts, car titles, etc., which help the company to more accurately assess the value of the damaged property.

If emergency repairs are necessary, homeowners should obtain a list of companies authorized by the insurance company to make repairs. Some repair companies will bill the insurance company directly; others may require payment by the homeowner that can later be reimbursed.

Homeowners should make sure the terms of the emergency repair are clear before its commencement, and keep all receipts of repairs and of items purchased for repairs.

In addition to keeping receipts of emergency repairs, homeowners should document in detail any contact they have with the insurance company, including names, phone numbers and outlines of conversations, in case of dispute.

By being present when their property is being inspected, homeowners can point out damage the insurance adjuster may not notice. If the insurance company's final settlement is not satisfactory, a second opinion should be obtained from a local contractor and presented to the company.

Utah insurance companies say their customers are their No. 1 priority; however, seemingly unresolvable insurance disputes can ultimately be disputed through the Utah Insurance Department, visit online at

Filing an insurance claim

Assess the damage

Call an insurance agent immediately

Document the damage

Make sure only approved companies make emergency repairs

Document any contact with the insurance company

Be present when the adjuster inspects damage

If necessary, get a second opinion