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Compare storm damage coverage
Protect your home against Mother Nature with storm and flood insurance.
Homeowners insurance can help protect your home against most storms, but to be fully protected, you may need to take out additional flood insurance.
Does homeowners insurance cover storm damage?
Yes, protection against storm damage is a standard feature on most home insurance policies. It covers repair or rebuilding costs for your home, plus repair or replacement costs for possessions that suffer damage. But you’ll want to check your policy to find out if there are any limits or exclusions and whether your insurance offers any additional benefits, such as temporary accommodation costs while your home is not fit to live in following a storm.
Storms vs floods
While homeowners insurance will generally cover damage from thunderstorms, hail, lightning, strong winds and other storms, it won’t cover damage from floods. To protect yourself against flood damage, you’ll need to take out flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or a private flood insurance company.
How to make a claim after storm damage
If your home or its contents were damaged by a storm:
1. Assess the damage. Once the storm has passed and it’s safe to go outside, inspect your home, contents and property for any damage. Make sure to take any reasonable steps to prevent any further loss or damage to your property, but be aware that your insurer may not allow you to make any repairs until they have assessed the damage. If emergency repairs are required, contact your insurer for advice on what you can do.
2. Gather evidence. Supporting documentation will be crucial to the success of your claim, so start gathering proof of the damage and loss you have suffered. Make a list of everything that has been damaged or destroyed, and gather any information you can about make, model and date of purchase. Take photographs of damage to your home and contents and keep receipts if you need to buy essential items like food or bedding.
3. File a claim. The next step is to file a claim with your insurer. You will usually have to fill out a claim form with full details of the storm and the damage it caused. Forms are available through the insurer’s website or by calling the insurer, and you’ll need to include any supporting documentation requested by the insurer with your claim form.
4. Meet with an adjuster. The insurance company will send out an adjuster to inspect the damage and assess your claim. Make sure that you co-operate fully with the adjuster, but also remember that it’s their job to make sure your claim amount is kept to a minimum. In some cases, the adjuster may arrange for a hydrologist to determine the cause of the storm or flood damage.
5. Claim payment. If your claim is accepted, your insurer will pay out a benefit to cover your loss or damage.
Tips on making a storm insurance claim
Keep the following tips in mind to help the home insurance claims process run as smoothly as possible:
- Understand your coverage. For example, many policies pay a benefit to cover temporary accommodation costs if your home is unlivable following an insured event, and most insurance companies have a number you can call if you need emergency repairs.
- Consider hiring a public adjuster. If your insurance adjuster offers a benefit that’s significantly less than you feel like you should get, you can get a quote from a public adjuster in order to negotiate.
- Know how to complain. If you’re unhappy with the result of your claim, start by calling your insurer’s internal complaints resolution department to see if they can help. If you’re still unhappy with their response, you can hire an attorney to dispute the claim and/or contact your state’s insurance department.
Reasons your storm claim might be denied
It’s important to be fully aware of what your home insurance policy doesn’t cover when it comes to storms, floods and rainwater damage. Exclusions vary from policy to policy, so it’s important to read all the fine print before signing on with a new insurer. Common exclusions include:
- Loss or damage from a flood, including rain, runoff and ocean-related floods
- Damage from earth movements such as landslides, earthquakes or erosion
- Any damage caused by neglecting to maintain the home
- Damage caused by governmental action or action you took to bring the home up to code
- Loss or damage caused by wind, rainwater, hail or snow entering your home through an open window or door or any opening not made by the storm
- Damage caused by power outages
Does storm insurance cover my car?
If you want to protect your car against storm damage, you’ll need to invest in comprehensive car insurance. This usually includes cover for hail, wind and flood damage. If your car is damaged in a storm, keep a few simple tips in mind to help the claims process run as smoothly as possible:
- Take photos of the damage, including close-up and distance shots.
- Avoid removing any debris until your insurer gives you the okay, or try to get a photo before moving anything.
- Call your insurer as soon as possible to notify them of the damage and find out whether you’re covered.
- Don’t authorize any repairs before contacting your insurer.
Compare home insurance with storm coverage
Storm preparation checklist
Taking steps before, during and after a storm can help keep you, your family and your home safe.
Before the storm
- Check your gutters. Make sure that your gutters and drain spouts are free of any debris. If they’re blocked, overflowing water could flood your home or damage your siding.
- Check your roof. Make sure there are no loose or damaged tiles on your roof, or raised edges on corrugated metal — these could be turned into dangerous projectiles by strong wind.
- Trim trees. Make sure to prune back any tree branches that hang over your home.
- Secure loose items. From outdoor furniture to kids’ toys, make sure any loose items in your yard are secured and won’t turn into flying projectiles.
- Put together a storm emergency kit. Include first aid supplies, a flashlight, extra batteries, water, non-perishable food and blankets. A radio can also come in handy to keep up to date with weather reports and evacuation notices.
- Move cars inside. Damage caused by hail or falling trees could cause your vehicle to be damaged.
- Secure doors, windows and awnings. This can help protect your home against damage.
During the storm
- Stay inside. Stay inside out of the danger and away from windows. If you have a basement, head there if the wind starts to pick up. If not, a bathtub is the next safest place.
- Listen for updates. Keep a radio handy to listen for storm updates.
- Stay safe. Don’t go outside until you’re sure it’s safe to do so.
After the storm
- Stay clear of fallen power lines. Electrocution is a big risk following a storm.
- Avoid floodwaters. Don’t try to drive through floodwaters or allow your kids to play in or near them.
- Avoid storm-affected areas. Don’t travel through storm-affected areas unless absolutely necessary.
- Check for damage. Thoroughly inspect your house and property for damage, taking photos as you go.
- Call your insurer. Contact your homeowners insurance provider as soon as possible if there’s any damage.
A storm can wreak havoc on your home— and if you aren’t insured, it can wreak havoc on your bank account, too. Compare homeowners insurance policies and consider taking out flood insurance to protect your home from Mother Nature.
Frequently asked questions about storm insurance
Image source: Getty Images
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