Know what's covered before the storm hits
Most homeowner's policies cover damage due to tornadoes, wind, hailstorms, severe temperatures, ice, lightning, and fire. In general, homeowner's insurance does not cover flooding; and your policy may have other restrictions based on what exactly caused the damage to your home, even if it happened during a storm. Talk to your insurance agent about additional coverage if you live in a high-risk area.
Exercise caution immediately following a storm
Just because you can't see it doesn't mean your home has not been damaged. If you're unsure, it might even be a good idea to stay somewhere else for a few days. If you decide to temporarily relocate, your insurance policy may help you cover some of those expenses. Finally, consider hiring a professional storm inspector to assess your home if you are not sure if you can do the job safely.
Document potential damage
Common types of damage after a storm include roof, window, and structural damage as well as exterior damage to paint or siding. After the storm passes, treat your home like it's a crime scene: before moving anything, take plenty of photos and/or video, inside and out. Carefully document all damages.
Call your insurance company
Make contact with a claims agent as soon as possible. They will help you to properly assess the damage to your home and understand what's covered by your policy, as well as walk you through the claims process.
Make temporary repairs
After a severe storm, be sure to cover broken windows and exposed areas, and remove glass, tree limbs, and debris where it is safe to do so. Quickly address downed power lines or other electrical hazards by calling 911.
Hire a credible contractor
Did you know that some contractors travel to areas hit by storms to take advantage of unsuspecting homeowners? To avoid hiring one of these "storm chasers," do your research. Ask around, make sure they are licensed, and check online reviews before signing on the dotted line. Verify your contractor is local, certified, and has insurance coverage to practice in your state.
Work with your insurance agent to negotiate the claim
Ideally, the contractor you hire will have extensive experience working with an insurance company and will be able to help you navigate the process of getting repairs paid for and completed. Regardless, it's a good idea to get any quotes approved before proceeding with work on your roof or home. Save all receipts, including those from any temporary repairs made to your home.
For more information about storm damage and insurance, call or contact Wilson, Timmons & Wallerstein, Inc. today.