Storm Damage and Insurance Claims

Storm damage isn’t a new concept to Minnesota and Wisconsin homeowners. Constant exposure to rough and variable weather wreaks havoc on the exterior of many Midwest homes. Storms blow through each year bombarding your home with rain, snow, hail, lightning, and ice. While you’re safe from harm inside your home, you’re also worrying about what’s happening on the outside.  What’s the damage caused outside?  How will you pay for it? Most frequently homeowners are thinking, “Will insurance cover the cost of roof damage, siding destruction, or more?”

Most mainstream homeowner’s insurance covers storm-related damage with the exception of flooding. Your insurance company and your specific policy will determine the amount of compensation that you’ll receive. Some insurance companies pay to repair the damaged area fully or to replace a structure completely, while others consider your age, depreciation, and level of maintenance before writing your reimbursement check.

Being proactive as a homeowner is our best advice. In the event of a storm, it’s best to be prepared. Here are a few tips of what you can do prior to a storm damaging your home.

Storm Damage Homeowner Tips:

1) Document now.  Having before and after pictures are essential for ensuring a swiftly processed claim.  Insurance companies require documentation, and unfortunately many homeowners’ do not have “before” pictures to show the original health of their home. Walk through your home and property as soon as possible and take pictures of everything of value. Take pictures of  appliances, electronics, and furniture. Remember to include the physical features of your home and its exterior too. Include roof, gutters, siding, landscaping, fences, and all other structures such as a gazebo, garage, or shed. If you have video capabilities, use it. Email your inventory to yourself and a trusted friend so that you’ll be able to retrieve the documentation if disaster strikes.

2) Track. Track your repairs as proof that your property is properly maintained. Again, an electronic record is best. Use your smartphone to take photos of all repairs, including the incurred expenses, and email this documentation to yourself and a trusted friend or relative.

3) Follow-up Documentation. After disaster strikes, promptly photograph or video all the damage to your property that you can see safely. Contact a licensed contractor to take pictures of your home damages while he inspects it. Enlist this trusted expert to give you a professional estimate of all the repairs your home needs. Do not rely solely on an insurance inspector. Having two estimates, one from a contractor, and one from an insurance inspector is best.

File:

File. Gather and record the estimates and invoices for all your property’s needed repairs, including expenses for temporary fixes to prevent further damage. Include items such as covering holes in the roof and securing windows and doors. File your insurance claim as soon as you can by submitting photos of all estimates, invoices, and expenses as well as a copy of the before-and-after property images you recorded. If you need help dealing with your insurance company, involve your contractor to explain the extent of storm damage to your home.

Here’s the take-away message. Don’t pay for repairs that are rightfully covered by your insurance company! Start to be proactive today in making any insurance claim processes worry free.