You will be at a loss as to what to do and where to start from when a storm causes reasonable damage to your residential property that you may have probably been asked to vacate for safety reasons. Thousands of things will swirl in your mind. You may want to know about the remedial measures you can take yourself, the amount of time in which your insurer will respond, and when to employ contractors to do the required repair or restoration.
After going through the steps shared below, you will probably have greater clarity and a proper plan of action. However, we would like to add here that if you hire the services a public adjuster, their assistance will be worth its weight in gold as they will fast-track the whole thing and get you the maximum reward that you are entitled to receive. The experience and expertise of public adjusters come in real handy after a tragedy like storm damage:
Step 1: See your property is secure
After a storm, you cannot enter your house just like that. You first have to ensure that it’s safe for you step inside your residence. Storms not only bring along or are followed by heavy downpours, they even cause sewers to overflow that may allow more water to make its way inside your precincts.
And if uprooted electric poles and power lines fall down in the stagnated water, you may stand a genuine risk of getting electrocuted. Water is a good conductor of electricity and it’s only after you have warded off this threat that you can think of entering your abode again.
There is no harm in switching off the power supply altogether and restarting it when you are assured that your property is secure.
Step 2: Do temporary repairs
To prevent the situation from getting worse, you can do some temporary repairs yourself. You can use plywood or tarp to cover the damaged part of a roof, door, or window.
Step 3: Take photos
An oft-repeated injunction after storm damage is that you must take photos. However, if you are of the view that you just need to click pictures of broken doors, windows, railings, etc. and water damage that is visible, you are mistaken.
When you contact your insurance company, they will ask you to ready an exhaustive list that will include the following:
Gas line – If the gas line looks bent or discolored, do not delay in taking its picture immediately.
Outlets and fixtures: You must observe all the fixtures and outlets and if the recent storm altered the appearance or functionality of any of them, you must have a visual record of the same.
Damaged appliances: No matter whether an electronic appliance has sustained just a minor scratch or has become totally inoperative, put the camera in your smartphone to good use.
Basement and foundation: Basement and foundation are most susceptible to water intrusion post a serious storm and if water is not removed soon, the very base of your house can be in jeopardy. So, take pictures of this area of your house as well.
Step 4: Contact your insurer
You will obviously have to contact your insurance company but do not take them for a fool. They have to compensate you but that does not mean that you can fleece them. Report all the damage honestly and accurately. A public adjuster can help you here if you feel you won’t be up to the task for you must remember that if there is serious discrepancy between the real damage and what your report suggests, you may receive a part of your claim or your claim could get rejected altogether.
Storms are known to cause severe damage and hence you must remain persistent where your claim is concerned. And you must also remember that your insurer may very well recompense you for the expenditures you may have to bear besides and as a result of the physical damage of your property. If you are required to live in a hotel for some time, get water drained out of your compound, or hire cabs off and on for commuting, make sure you have the receipt of each and everything and you may probably have everything reimbursed.
Step 5: Decide what you will pay yourself
If you are of the view that your insurance policy will cover every little expense that you are made to incur as a result of the destruction caused by a storm, you are again mistaken. For some things, you will have to pay from your own pocket.
Electronic goods and jewelries are material possessions and your insurer will be duty bound to compensate you if these are damaged. However, those possessions that have a sentimental value attached to them won’t mean anything to your insurance company and hence you won’t get anything for them. It’s up to you how you cover up their loss.
But when it’s about flooring and furniture, the quote you get from your insurer will help you decide what your budget will be for repair and restoration. You can tally the quote you get with the ones that your contractors and repairers provide you with. There shouldn’t be too much discrepancy for the insurance quote will based on the quotes of in-network contactors who you must ideally approach rather than going for an outsider.
Step 6: Choose the right contractor
You must choose any contractor who features in the in-network list of your insurer. You should choose someone who fixes water damage and carries out structural repairs as well. What’s more, the contractor should be trustworthy as well. Because there will be discussions on many things, not having someone who you can trust will add to your woes. So, choosing the right contractor is paramount.
Some out-of-network contractors may arrive at your doorstep and be willing to restore your property at a cheaper rate. Be wary of such service providers who may leave you dissatisfied and unhappy.
So now you know what to do after storm damage and as mentioned before, you can make your life easier by engaging a qualified and seasoned public adjuster who will be in the know of all that we have discussed above.
Also, you must have proper knowledge of what all your homeowners’ insurance policy is going to cover. While you should get coverage for weather damage and non-weather and accidental incidents, the biggest exclusion will be flood damage for which you will have to get a separate flood insurance policy.
Flooding can take place if your roof starts leaking or the rain is so incessant that the sump pump system fails to keep pace. To fix this problem at the earliest and prevent more damage, special equipment will be required to get rid of water from a hard surface or carpeting. If you live in a coastal area where storm damage may also constitute a deluge, it will be advisable to have an exclusive flood insurance plan.