How To Assess Your Home For Damage After A Storm
The quicker you can handle your insurance claim after a storm the better. This deters insurance companies from being able to say that you waited too long to know if it was from the storm. It also gets you on the contractor’s list faster than your neighbors that wait. Before you pick up the phone though, make sure you are handling the process the right way by following these steps.
Use caution and dress appropriately
Be sure that the storm is over before exiting your safe shelter. Then address immediate needs while wearing protective gear and closed toed shoes.
Address downed power lines or electrical hazards
Before you touch anything, make sure there are no electrical hazards in the nearby area. If there are, call 911 and do not touch anything or anyone that is in contact with the hazard.
Know what is covered in your home insurance plan
Keep documents on hand at all times that state your policy. Read over this so that you know what is covered.
Get your camera ready
Take pictures of any damage that you see while inspecting your home and keep them for your records.
Look for fallen trees or branches
Large debris or fallen trees are a good indicator of where damage might have taken place.
Identify holes in siding, gutters, or roof
Any cracks, holes, or dents should be documented for repair. These could lead to leaks or larger problems in the future.
Are any windows or skylights broken or damaged?
Look for loose weather stripping, torn screens, or cracked windows in the inspection process.
Check for missing or lifted shingles on the roof
If it is safe, use a ladder to take a look at the roof for missing or lifted shingles. Don’t climb onto the roof as it may be damaged and unstable
Search for leaks and water spots in your home, especially your attic
Leaks or water spots are a good indicator that there is damage to your roof or foundation. Take your time and search long and hard for any indicators of water. Missing this step could lead to big expenses in the future.
Look for cracks in your interior walls
Cracks on interior walls can mean that your foundation has shifted. If you can catch this before you submit your claim, it will save you a lot of future problems.
Check for damage to your AC unit or other outdoor accessories
Test your AC unit to make sure it is in working order and also look for visible damage. Keep in mind other outdoor accessories like furniture, a pool, sprinkler system, etc.
Is your deck or patio safe?
Look for hail damage, structural damage, or otherwise. Do not walk on it until you have identified that it is in good condition.
Walk the fence and make sure it is secure
Look for broken areas, holes, or loose stakes.
Don’t throw anything away
Keep all damaged things until it is seen by the insurance agent. Then, ask to make sure you can dispose of it. If you are missing items, try to find proof that you owned them. This is why it is helpful to document your belongings with pictures as you buy them for reference.
Call a contractor that you can trust
You do not have to go with the contractor that your insurance agent suggests. In fact, most people recommend that you don’t. Go with someone that you feel is giving you the customer service you need and will help you get through the process with quality work. You should get multiple estimates before deciding on your contractor.
File a claim with your insurance agent
File a claim with your insurance agent as soon as you can. Some insurance companies have a limit on how long you have to follow the claim. Be prepared to provide pictures, the estimate from your contractor, and any other details that you can. If possible, have your contractor present when the insurance adjuster comes to look at your home. They will be able to make sure you are getting a fair deal.
Protect your family
If your home is unsafe for living, relocate while it is being fixed. Usually, your insurance will cover the cost.