It doesn’t always happen to the other guy. No matter where we live, we are all vulnerable to storm damage. Whether it’s high winds, hail, excessive rain, or lightning, our houses are all sitting ducks when the tornado siren sounds or when we hear ice pounding on the rooftop.
One way or another, when mean old Mother Nature becomes an unwelcome guest, chances are there’s a storm damage claim in your future.
The question is, how do you estimate the damages? The answer most likely points to the expert in conducting assessments: the insurance adjuster.
Let’s say your house sustains a downdraft wind of 50-60 mph, and your shingles are blown off your roof. This type of wind damage is more common than tornadoes. Maybe your home did its job and sheltered you from the derecho (in Spanish, this means straight) and its 100 mph straight-line winds.
When the weather reporter points out cumulonimbus clouds, they are putting you on alert. Take cover, because you can expect cloud-to-ground lightning, and out in an open area is not where you want to be. Although few things are more fascinating than a good lightning show, it’s best to get yourself inside.
Even so, just because you feel relatively safe inside, you should still be alert to the cracking sounds that mean the tree right outside your window could land on top of your house – which could mean that the tree is no longer outside the house because it’s inside.
In addition to roof damage, fallen trees caused by lightning strikes can spark fires and cause injury to you or your family, in which case you have a different set of problems.
Or it can spark a fire and ruin your electrical appliances and computer.
Hail is another natural phenomenon. There’s no mistaking the sound of rocks hitting your roof. No doubt about it: you’re going to need a contractor.
Unless you’ve got the training, how do you know what to look for after a storm?
While you may be at the mercy of the insurance company, you also have some options. Here are a few suggestions:
- Invest in a pair of binoculars. It’s hard to see things at a distance, and magnifying the roof can help you see things like dents and gaps.
- Look outside the house for dents, broken or cracked windows, missing shingles, holes in the roof, or a gutter that is bent or torn off.
- You should take pictures as soon as possible. You will want to record the obvious so you can refer to it should excessive time pass and cause further damage.
- Look inside the house for leaks, water stains on the ceiling, water seeping in, or dripping.
- Check with your neighbors. Chances are if their homes sustained substantial damage, then yours did, too.
- Have your home inspected by a contractor (independent from your insurance company) for hail and water damage. It’s not unreasonable to get a second opinion. There may be damages that you will not be able to see. Having a professional assessment performed gives you unbiased facts when you file your insurance claim.
- Obtain a copy of the report to submit to your insurance company.
- Make sure the contractor is licensed and insured.
Things to check before a storm damages your home
Familiarize yourself with your insurance policy. Do you know what it says? Does it cover lightning? Flooding? Mold? Does it cover the cost of a hotel if your home is uninhabitable? Many policies do, so it’s worth taking a look.
Your insurance company provides a claims adjuster at no additional expense. Don’t forget that the adjuster understands the language of insurance and can be a great resource – not just when submitting your claim, but also interpreting the policy.
So you’ve done an assessment yourself, photographed the evidence, and made some notes. Next, make a list of all the questions you can think of, and make sure to find out:
- Who your contact person is, and who to contact if your representative is no longer available.
- Your contact person’s phone number and email, and generally how long it will take him/her to get back to you.
- If you hire your own professionals, is it covered in your contract?
- Get a list of documents you need to complete and any deadlines on completion.
- Is there an inventory checklist required by the insurance company?
- What are the rules/guidelines for starting the cleanup of the premises?
Following a few steps to managing your claim may help to expedite the process.
Contact your insurance company as soon as possible. Have a copy of your policy on hand if possible for reference. Remember, if your home was damaged, then chances are others in the vicinity were as well; if this is the case, it might take a while for them to get to you.
Heaven forbid there should be a second storm on the heels of the first storm. But if there is, where possible, use a tarp to cover holes to protect your home from additional damage.
Dents, dings, rooftop damage. Flash flooding, excessive rainfall, mold. Each is possible in Pennsylvania and can interrupt your life.
No one wants to entertain the possibility that their home might one day be damaged, but thinking about it beforehand can make a world of difference. Of course, we hope this does not happen to you or your loved ones, but just in case, give us a call. At Expert Claim Solutions, we are here to help you get your life back.