Most homeowners insurance policies are designed to provide coverage for damage caused by storms, including rain, hail, tornadoes, wind and lightning. But not every policy is the same, and much depends on how the damage occurs. You must review your homeowners policy every year to make sure that you understand how your policy can help you pay for repairs and lost property after a storm.
Most home insurance policies pay for damage caused by storms, but with a few exceptions. First, it is vital for you to recognize that your homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage. Flooding caused by heavy rains, hurricanes, or any other type of event is never covered by your home insurance. We can help you purchase flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). For more information about flood insurance from the NFIP, visit FloodSmart.gov.
Trees that fall during a storm can also cause some confusion in terms of your home insurance coverage. If a tree falls during a storm and damages your house or some other structure on your property (even if it is your neighbor’s tree) you will have coverage for the costs to repair that damage. In addition, your policy might offer some coverage for removal of the stump (if necessary) from the structure that it fell onto. But if a tree simply falls in your yard but does not cause damage to any structure, your policy will likely not provide coverage for the cost of tree and stump removal, or for replacing the tree.
Lightning can be very dangerous and can cause a great deal of damage to homes and other structures. Your homeowners insurance provides coverage if lightning strikes your home and starts a fire. In addition, most policies cover the costs of repairing and replacing electronics that are damaged due to a lightning-related power surge.
Wind damage is covered under most standard homeowners insurance policies. But homeowners in coastal areas or areas where severe windstorms are prevalent may also need to purchase separate windstorm insurance. Homeowners in coastal areas also often need to include separate hurricane deductibles on their home insurance policies.
One of the most important types of coverage that home insurance offers is loss of use coverage. Loss of use coverage pays for specified living expenses, up to a certain limit, if you cannot live in your home while it is being repaired or rebuilt due to some type of covered loss. Loss of use coverage might pay for hotel or rent expenses, restaurant meals and so on, usually up to certain daily limits for a specified number of days. It is really important to know how your loss of use coverage works and what your limits are if you unfortunately cannot live in your home for a temporary period after a storm.
Because severe storms are so prevalent and can cause so much damage, homeowners must take steps to secure their homes in order to minimize the damage and avoid having to file an insurance claim. If you live in an area that is highly susceptible to severe weather, consider the following tips for minimizing damage:
- Unplug all electrical devices and appliances when lightning is present.
- Use surge protectors to prevent power surges from damaging electronics.
- Shutter windows and doors and secure outside doors during storms.
- Close window blinds, shades and curtains during storms.
- Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or damage the exterior of your home.
It is also a good idea to prepare an emergency kit that is ready at all times. It should include things like canned food, bottled water, a battery-operated NOAA weather radio, flashlights, prescription medications, important papers, extra batteries, a first-aid kit, cell phones and chargers.
If your home is damaged in a storm, it is okay to make minor repairs to ensure that no further damage occurs. You will likely want to immediately board up windows or tarp the roof if they have sustained damage. However, you should never make any permanent repairs until an insurance adjuster has surveyed the damage. And don’t throw any damaged property away until the adjuster has seen it.
Always give yourself and your family plenty of time to take shelter from a storm. Any precautions you take to protect your home from damage should be made in advance so when the storm hits, all you need to worry about is your personal safety.
Do you know how your home insurance policy covers storm damage? Have you taken any steps to minimize storm damage? Contact us for advice or for help with checking your storm damage coverage.
Posted on Mon, March 20, 2017
by Starr Mathews Agency filed under