When a storm rolls through our area, high winds, driven rain, and hail regularly result in damage to homes and vehicles. When we’re on her bad side, Mother Nature can wreak havoc, causing roof and siding damage, flash flooding, and structural damage.
Here are some tips for filing your insurance claim and getting things back on track following a storm event!
After the storm
Once the storm has passed and it’s safe to do so, it’s a good idea to walk around your property and look for any signs of damage. The most common signs of storm damage include:
• Missing / damaged shingles or roof structures
• Missing / damaged siding
• Fallen trees (which may have damaged structures)
• Flooding or pooling of water
• Broken windows
• Water intrusion
But this is in no way a complete list. Strong winds, heavy rain, and hail can cause significant damage in a short amount of time and often this damage can be unpredictable. For instance, wind-driven rain can be blown sideways where it is able to penetrate through roofing eaves and ridge vents, window and door frames, and even up under your roof’s drip edge…
Don’t forget to check thoroughly inside your home as well. While you may not see any damage outside, it’s still possible to experience moisture intrusion and roof leaks as a result of the storm. When conducting your walkthrough, be sure to pay particular attention to windows and doors, your attic, and the basement for signs of moisture intrusion.
If you see any damage during your inspections be sure to take good pictures of the damage for your Insurance Company.
First and foremost, it’s important to realize that insurance policies can be different and the coverages and exclusions in your home insurance policy are what’s important. We always recommend looking at your home insurance policy to determine what is and is not covered. If you have questions about your policy and / or the coverages it outlines, we recommend contacting your local Insurance Agent who will be happy to address those concerns for you.
In general terms, most insurance policies will cover damage caused by high winds, hail, and wind-driven rain. Here are a few examples of what is generally covered and not covered:
Wind Damage such as damaged or missing shingles and siding are often covered by home insurance policies. While this damage is generally covered, some policies do not include any coverage for wind or storm damage at all. Others may include specific exclusions that require additional endorsements or insurance coverages in the event of named storms or specific weather events for instance.
Hail Damage most commonly affects vehicles and roofing structures. While it may be extremely noticeable when it’s your vehicle, hail damage affecting your roof can be very difficult to see from the ground. In cases where a hail storm has passed through your area, it may be advisable to hire a roofer to inspect the roof to determine if any damage has in fact occurred. Hail damage, similar to Wind damage, is generally covered by home insurance policies, but there may be exclusions in your policy that may apply.
Rain Damage can be a bit sneaky at first. While the storm has passed, rain may have been able to get in through small gaps in the roofing structure, your exterior walls, or your foundation. In this case, the likelihood of your rain damage being covered depends largely on how the water got into your home. While rain and water damage that results from roof damage will generally be covered, rainwater that touches the ground first and then flows into your home will most likely not be covered under your policy. This is because in most cases this would be treated as “groundwater” by your insurance company. Read on however as there are exceptions to every rule…
Groundwater Damage is any damage that results from water that touches the ground first. This includes groundwater like underground springs, high water tables, and yes, even rain that touches the ground first. While groundwater damage is generally not covered, there are cases where it may be. For example, if you have a sump pump and you lost power during the storm, your sump pump obviously wouldn’t be able to do its job. In unique cases such as this, the damage that resulted would be covered under policies that include a sump pump failure endorsement.
Flooding can result from a storm situation such as a hurricane or tropical storm, or from the overwhelming of creeks and rivers. Damage that results from flooding is not covered under traditional homeowners policies and instead requires specialized flood insurance. Learn more about Flood Insurance.
What to do following Storm Damage
If you notice storm damage, it is important to react quickly in order to prevent further damage. It’s important to keep in mind that the storm damage you see may allow additional rain in from future storms, which will cause further moisture issues and structural damage. Additionally, any interior moisture that is not properly addressed will continue to wick into dry building materials, expanding the scope of damage, and even cause Mold Growth!
Here’s what you should do:
1) Take pictures of any storm damage you see.
2) Prevent further damage (Have your roof tarped, broken windows boarded up, etc.)
3) Contact your Insurance Company to review coverages and report a claim.
4) Hire a qualified Mitigation and Restoration Company to begin the services necessary to get your home back to pre-loss condition.
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