Over the years, many cities in the US have, especially cities like Tampa, Florida, and New Orleans, LA, have weathered brutal storms, damaged homes, devastated communities and left lasting effects on theirs Housing markets. Unfortunately, destructive storms are becoming more common, and knowing what to do after a storm has damaged your home is important.
When a storm damages your home it can feel like your life is suddenly turned upside down. You can feel overwhelmed by the destruction the storm wreaked, and it can be difficult knowing what to do first. But careful planning before a storm can help you find your way around the challenging waters afterwards so you can get back to normal as soon as possible. So what to do after a natural disaster? Here are 5 steps you must take to be prepared if a storm damages your home.
1) Be careful and stay vigilant
The destruction and the consequences of a storm of any kind can lead to serious injuries. Once you are sure that you and your household members are safe and sound, take the necessary precautions to avoid injury. It’s common to encounter storm damage hazards like broken glass, exposed nails, or misplaced screws, so keep your eyes peeled. Watch out for unsecured piles of debris such as collapsed roofing materials, standing water, and collapsed walls.
It is important to always assume that dropped power lines are still live and dangerous. Stay as far away from power lines as possible and alert the police if you find down power lines near you. In addition, if you smell gas, immediately close all gas valves to avoid further hazards.
2) Assess the damage and take photos of the storm damage
After the storm is over and before you contact your insurance company, assess the storm damage to your home. To ensure you are fully compensated, take photos of any internal and external damage to your home. Your home could be structurally damaged, so always be careful when moving into your home. As you inspect the inside and outside, make note of the following:
- Roof lifts and lost shingles. Look for holes or leaks in the roof, torn seams, dents in vents and gutters, missing, broken or dented shingles.
- Missing or damaged outer cladding. Rain can damage the siding, and strong winds can tear it down instantly.
- Broken windows and destroyed doors. The wind itself, as well as the debris it carries, can easily break windows and inflate doors.
- Damaged or broken equipment, including your air conditioner. Often this is due to water damage.
- Basement flooding. If the soil surrounding your home becomes too saturated with water, your basement or crawl space can be flooded, damaging your belongings and the foundations of your home.
- Moisture damage. Rain and water can enter your home and cause mold in insulation, wood, furniture, and carpets.
- Fire damage. Short circuits caused by dropped power lines or water entering electrical outlets and electrical devices can cause fires.
Don’t forget to record the loss or destruction of your personal belongings as well. Most Homeowner insurance The policies cover personal property up to a specified limit.
3) Call your insurance agent right away
After photographing the storm damage, call your agent as soon as possible and stay in touch until your claim is resolved. You can explain what damage your insurance covers. Make sure you discuss the damage to your home and provide the photos you have taken along with the appropriate documentation. Your insurance company will then send an appraiser to determine the amount of the damage.
4) Stop further damage
Now is the time to do what you can to prevent further damage. If storm damage lets wind and water enter your home, first cover broken windows or a leaky roof with tarpaulin or plywood. First, do what you can to minimize further damage, then consider contacting a local restoration company to help you. They can help you battle storm damage and get your property back in order. If you don’t know a trusted contractor in your area, your insurance company can often help you get in touch with a reputable contractor to avoid fraud.
If your home is in disrepair during this time, consider booking a hotel room or staying with friends and family for the time being. If your home requires extensive repairs, make sure you only return it if it is safe to do so.
5) Stay organized and keep receipts
Keep good records for every claim on your home insurance. For example, keep all receipts for materials and labor to ensure a fair reimbursement.
Familiarize yourself with your homeowner’s insurance coverage. For example, typical home insurance covers tree damage caused by a storm, but the main exception to most coverages is flood damage. Regardless of the carrier, flood damage is not covered under a standard policy. Therefore, you need flood insurance in case your home is damaged by a flood.
Household contents insurance usually covers three scenarios:
- Weather damage: This usually includes damage from hail, wind, fire, snow, and more.
- Non-weather events: Frequent weather-independent events are actions such as theft and vandalism.
- Sudden / random events: This includes situations like a water pipe burst or a water leak.
If you live in an extreme weather area with high risk of storms, speak to your agent to find out if it is in your best interest to protect your home and property with storm damage or flood insurance. It’s an extra coverage that you can opt for in your home insurance, but it can help you after a storm has damaged your home.