Even small storms can cause damage to your home. It’s important to know what to do after such a storm to repair your home and prevent future damage.
This starts with knowing the ins and outs of your homeowner’s policy. Additionally, it’s important to know how to hire the right contractor and avoid scams.
What’s Covered Under Homeowners Insurance?
Nearly all homeowners insurance policies cover wind damage. Still, there may be exceptions and exclusions.
The best way to know for sure? Read your policy closely, and talk to your agent if anything’s unclear.
If you do have wind damage coverage, keep in mind there are two separate types of protection that is likely in your policy: Personal property protection and dwelling protection.
Personal property coverage helps when there’s been wind-related damage inside your home — if rain has gotten in a wind-caused hole in your roof, for example. On the other hand, dwelling coverage takes care of wind-related damage to the actual structure of your home — the windows, roof, or foundation, for example.
How Do You Find a Good Contractor?
Knowing whether you have wind damage coverage in your homeowner’s insurance policy is step one. After that, it’s important to know what contractor you would hire should actual damage occur to your home after a storm.
This may seem like an easy task to undertake; however, there are unfortunately some unscrupulous contractors out there who will take you for a ride if you let them. Most reputable contractors refer to these guys as “storm chasers.”
Storm chasers come into an area where storm damage has occurred and solicit homeowners with promises of fast and cheap labor to repair their homes. Unfortunately, these contractors are not actually from your neck of the woods. They chase storms, do shoddy work to repair storm-damaged houses, get paid, and finally leave town before you know what hit you.
To avoid the threat of storm chasers, it’s important to hire only licensed and insured contractors from your local area. Speaking with your homeowner’s insurance agent is a good idea as they can usually recommend someone good for the job. This can be done when you make your claim.
Make sure the contractors you hire are not only licensed and insured (with written proof) but are also willing to supply you with a written estimate detailing all work that should be done on your home to make it complete again.
How Can You Prevent Future Storm Damage?
All homeowners are required by contract to set up the necessary precautions for storm damage prevention. Because most storm damage is caused by the wind, this generally means reinforcing things that might be dislodged or broken in heavy winds (siding, roofing tiles or shingles, porch swings, fencing, and more). It’s also a good idea to close the shutters before a storm and bring in outdoor decorations, furniture, and garbage cans.
Of course, other damage can be caused by storms as well. Many homeowners in the Appleton and Kimberly areas struggle with water entering the basement via the sump pump pit or floor drain during periods of rapid runoff caused by melting snow or heavy rains. An endorsement may be available to provide coverage for this situation. It is important to discuss how much coverage would be needed to not only clean up and/or replace carpeting, drywall, etc but also what personal property could be damaged. Keep in mind that if sewage enters the home, items that it touches are considered destroyed and to account for that in selecting the amount of coverage. Coverage limits are often $5000 or $10,000, with higher coverage limits potentially being available depending on the company. Investing in a battery back up or water pressure powered sump pump could prove very beneficial to prevent a loss from occurring in the first place. Lastly, it might be a good idea to have a home generator at-the-ready, should you lose electricity after a storm.
It is important to note that flooding is not something that’s covered by homeowners insurance. A flood is a “general and temporary condition where two or more acres of normally dry land or two or more properties are inundated by water or mudflow”. Flood insurance is available for these situations. It is important to plan ahead for this possibility, as a waiting period of generally 30 days applies before coverage becomes effective.
Have questions about homeowners insurance? Our friendly and knowledgeable agents at Thiel Insurance Group would be more than happy to help. Give us a call or stop in today to find out more.