Tornadoes, storms and floods, oh my!
If your home is damaged by spring weather, the right homeowners insurance can help you avoid a disaster of a bill. However, some policies don’t cover what you’d expect them to. It’s a good idea to know exactly what your insurance covers.
Before a storm hits, give your insurance a checkup:
Most homeowners policies don’t cover flooding (flood insurance is usually purchased separately) but do cover wind damage. That means that if rain came through your roof that was damaged by wind, then any related water damage may be covered too.
Know whether your policy will pay the Replacement Cost of damage to your home. If you’re covered for the Actual Cash Value instead, you’ll only be paid for the current value of what was damaged. What was valuable 15 years ago may be less so now (sorry, iMac G3). One more thing to check – sometimes only part of your house is covered for the Replacement Cost and part (most commonly the roof) is covered for the Actual Cash Value.
Look up your deductibles (that’s right – you may have more than one) to make sure you can afford to pay the portion that you’re responsible for. Some policies have different deductibles for different types of damage. If you have a higher wind and hail deductible, you’ll pay more for damage from a storm or tornado.
For more tips about home insurance, read how to sort apples from oranges (and avoid the occasional lemon).
After a storm, here’s what to do if your home has been damaged:
Be safe: Don’t go back into your home until you know it’s safe. Good news! Your homeowners policy may help pay for your lodging after a covered disaster. (This is called loss of use coverage).
File a claim ASAP: Insurance companies often work on a first-come, first-served basis so it’s a good idea to get yourself near the top of the list. They’ll send an insurance adjuster to check out the damage (which means you shouldn’t fix much until they’ve seen it).
Document damage: Don’t throw away damaged items until your adjuster has seen them. Gather them and make a list that includes: location, age, replacement cost, make/model/serial number (if applicable). If you have receipts, gather them. And if you have a home inventory, get it ready too. Finally, take photos of any damaged parts of the house and property.
Fix urgent repairs: It’s a good idea to fix only what's necessary until your adjuster can see what’s happened firsthand. This may include preventing further damage by covering broken windows with plastic or roofs with tarps to keep rain out.
Keep receipts: You can’t get paid back the right amount if you can’t show how much you spent. Keep all receipts related to the loss including hotel stays, replacement items, repair services and supplies.
Pick a reputable restoration company: Local, licensed, and bonded is a really good idea. A lot of fly-by-night companies flock to areas of disaster and then disappear in a month or two. These companies are difficult to track down if you have issues with their work in the future.
Call 811 before you dig: Every 9 minutes, an underground utility line is damaged because someone decided to dig without knowing what’s down there! If your clean-up requires digging or removing trees, call 811 and arrange to have your local utility companies mark where their lines are.
If you’d like to give your homeowners insurance a checkup and see how prepared you are for a natural disaster, Mylo’s licensed advisors are ready to help.
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