Filing Weather-Related Insurance Claims

Insurance Claims

Spring, summer, and fall months can bring severe weather conditions, including rain, tornados, and hailstorm. These weather conditions, combined with high winds, can cause serious damage to yards, fences, and homes. A lot of times conditions occur with limited warning. Regions with extreme weather conditions include the Midwest, Colorado, and Florida. For these areas, among others, a good homeowner’s insurance plan is a must. Homeowners should also know the proper steps to take when weather-related damage occurs. 

Severe Weather Conditions and Damage

The formation of hail relies on cold air and forms in thunderstorm clouds with intense updrafts. These updrafts are indicators of a tornado, as well. Hailstorms range in severity by the size of the hail. Hail that is less than an inch in diameter causes little to no damage. On the other hand, hail that is larger than an inch in diameter poses severe threats that can lead to dents in cars and damage to roofs, siding, and trees. 

Another area that is susceptible to hail and thunderstorm damage is gutters. The pellets can strike gutters, gutter covers, and downspouts, as well. The intense pressure of hail and wind can cause gutter hangers to break loose from the property. All this damage combined can add up to hundreds of dollars in repairs, or even replacements.

Homeowner’s Insurance

Although severe weather conditions can cause intense damage to a home, most homeowners insurance policies cover weather-related damage to the roof, siding, or any other part of the home. Since gutters are part of the house’s structure, they are covered, too. With an adequate home insurance policy, a deductible is all that a person should need to pay. However, the process can be long and tedious, especially for homeowners who are filing a claim for the first time.  

Making an Insurance Claim

Weather-related losses are more complicated than other issues covered by homeowner’ s insurance. Usually, the entire community is affected at a time, causing insurance companies to be flooded with claims. It can take a long time for insurance professionals to visit the damage sites. Therefore, the insurance claims process requires patience when it is related to severe weather damage. 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is a government-funded resource for victims of severe weather damage. However, claims still need to be made through a homeowner’s primary insurance provider. The organization only covers temporary living expenses, such as food and shelter, but not home rebuilds. 

The following are additional tips for those individuals that may be filing a home insurance claim for the first time.

  1. One storm can be categorized as multiple events, which requires separate deductibles. For example, one severe weather storm lasting several days can be labeled both a hailstorm and a tornado. 
  2. Many policies require a 30-day waiting period before coverage kicks in, specifically flood insurance policies. Flood insurance often requires a separate policy that must be purchased through FEMA.
  3. Document everything because things can be changed or moved.
  4. Removal of debris by volunteers, although a generous gesture, can cause problems when it comes to filing an insurance claim
  5. Many people are underinsured for severe weather damage, including hailstorms, tornados, hurricanes, and wildfires. For this reason, many people cannot rebuild if weather disasters demolish the home because their policies are not large enough. 
  6. When choosing a home insurance policy, pay attention to any special or hidden limitations
  7. Contact your insurance agent immediately following a storm that causes damage. They will guide you through the process of filing a claim and what items are covered.

Other Weather-Related Concerns 

The most common weather conditions between April and September are hailstorms, tornados, and thunderstorms; however, there are other weather-related problems to consider. For example, the lightning during thunderstorms can strike trees or roofs, causing a fire to break out. Insurance companies treat fires caused by the weather the same as fires started by other causes, such as a furnace. 

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Severe storms can cause trees and branches to fall and damage fences, windows, and roofs. Discrepancies can come up when a neighbor’s tree damages your property. If you find yourself in this situation, contact your insurance company as soon as possible so they can help you recover damages. 

Winter storms bring many additional concerns. If homeowners do not maintain their property, many issues can arise, especially during the winter months. For example, if someone slips on ice on your property, they can sue. Insurance companies can help with legal defense costs and personal injury fees. 

Insurance companies offer an abundance of advice and services. If you face any damages related to weather conditions, take advantage of all the resources that are offered to you. For new homeowners buying insurance policies for the first time, research what coverage is available and select the best policy that will give you the most benefits

 

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