You're safe inside as a storm rages outside. It's pouring, the wind is whipping, and then suddenly you hear a loud bang! Upon investigating, umbrella in hand, you discover that a rather large tree has fallen onto your roof! What do you do now?Safety First
We know you want to immediately get the tree off of your roof and make sure everything is alright, but it is important to understand the danger that tree may represent. Often, trees may continue to shift and move, presenting a significant hazard should they fall off of the roof and onto you. For this reason, the tree removal should only be handled by a qualified and experienced tree removal service. Until the tree has been removed, ensure that everyone keeps a safe distance from the tree. It's still raining out anyway, so let's check the inside, where it should be dry.Checking Inside
Now that you know what happened, and approximately where the tree hit your home, go through the house and look for any signs of damage. Look specifically for Water Intrusion, drips, and cracks in drywall or plaster. You may have a pretty good idea of where the tree struck, but don't assume that a room isn't affected, and be sure to check adjoining rooms if you do discover any Water Damage. Should you discover any water intrusion, you should take steps to limit damage, such as putting buckets under drips, etc. Also, be aware that often water intrusion occurs inside ceiling cavities and walls and may not be visible. A professional mitigation company would have equipment to detect this hidden moisture before it does more damage. You will want to contact a Local Mitigation and Restoration Company that is able to ensure your property is dried out properly and thoroughly. Now that you know the extent of damages, you should contact your Local Insurance Agent or Insurance Carrier to report the claim.Contacting the Insurance Company
The rain may still be coming down, but that doesn't mean that there's nothing you can do. Ever since you went outside earlier, you've probably been thinking about contacting the insurance company, but might not know who to contact. Maybe it was your neighbor's tree? Contacting the Insurance Company can start the ball rolling, but Who Do You Contact, Your Insurance Company or Your Neighbor's? After speaking to your Insurance Company, they may be sending an Adjuster out, and may rely on photos you've taken, but what documentation do they need?Documenting Your Claim
Now that it's the following morning and the rain has stopped, you can go out and take some photos of the damages. Insurance Companies no longer send Insurance Adjusters out on every claim. In some cases, they rely on photos and documentation provided by their Insureds and the contractors performing the work. In any event, documenting your claim for your own records is always a good idea. Be sure to take good wide angle shots showing how the tree fell, from where, and what it hit. Try to get good close up shots of the roof to show any damage that you may be able to see. A roofer will not be able to tarp or repair the roof with the tree still on it, so the first step is to contact a tree removal service. Once the tree is removed, you will want to take more photos.Removing the Tree
After a storm, tree removal services are very busy, often servicing a different town or area each day. For this reason, it is important to call a few tree removal services to see which one may be able to service your needs first and schedule with them immediately. If you're having difficulty locating a tree service, ask your Local Mitigation Company, they may know of a company that is able to assist you. The tree removal company will be able to remove the tree from the roof, cut it up, dispose of it, and in some cases tarp the roof if needed. Now that the tree is removed, it's time to look at having a roofer inspect and address any damage that may have been caused to your home.Fixing the Roof
Now that you can see the roof and see that there is damage allowing water intrusion, you will want to contact a roofer to get a proposal for the repairs that you can submit to your Insurance Adjuster for approval. If your tree removal service did not tarp the roof, be sure to let your roofer know this, as he will need to tarp the roof until he receives the authorization to begin the repairs. If the roof is not tarped, water will continue to come into the property, resulting in secondary structural damage and possible Mold growth. If you're having difficulty locating a Roofer, ask your Local Mitigation Company, as they may know of a Roofer that will be able to assist you. We know that the roof is your primary concern, but when getting repair estimates, don't forget any interior repairs that will be necessary.Interior Repairs
While you were checking inside, you may have noticed some water damage, leaks, or cracks in drywall or plaster. While drying should be underway, you will need to address the interior repairs as well. While often your Local Mitigation and Restoration Company will be able to perform these repairs for you, you may elect to have your own contractor perform these repairs and that is perfectly acceptable. Remember that your insurance company by law cannot make you use their contractors. Once you have received your contractor's estimate, you can submit this to your Insurance Adjuster for approval as well. Once your Insurance Adjuster approves the roofer and contractor estimates, you're ready to start the repairs!Performing the Repairs
Now that the tree is removed, the interior is dry, and the estimates are all approved, you're ready to get the roof and interior repairs completed and hopefully make that storm a memory… Just as with most things, there is an order that should be followed when completing roofing repairs such as this. The roof repairs themselves should be completed prior to the interior repairs. The reason for this is that during the roof repairs, your roofer may discover support beams that have been split or additional work that may become necessary and may require some access from below. Also, while the roof should remain tarped during the roof repairs, some water intrusion is possible, which is much more easily addressed while these areas are still open.
Once the roof repairs are completed, the interior repairs can begin. As your contractor replaces drywall, paints, etc., you can begin to reclaim these spaces and hopefully over time forget about that bang that happened during that storm.
We hope you found this information helpful! We know that any claim is an inconvenience, and hope to make the process go just a little smoother with these tips for responding to a fallen tree claim! If we can be of any assistance, please don't hesitate to Contact Us!
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*This information is provided for informational purposes only. This information is not intended as legal advice.
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