7 Steps to Take After a Storm Has Damaged Your Home

Wednesday, November 17, 2021   /   by Raj Jaggi

7 Steps to Take After a Storm Has Damaged Your Home

The destruction that a storm brings to your house might leave you feeling lost and helpless. Concerns about ensuring the safety of your family, recovering your property, and putting your life back together may be daunting. And, as devastating storms become more prevalent, it pays to have a plan in place to help you deal with the aftermath.

This is why it's crucial to understand the critical procedures to follow in the aftermath of a large storm. It can help you speed up the recovery so you can go back to normal as soon as possible.

1. Safety should always come first.

Whether your home was severely damaged by the wind, was struck by lightning, or was flooded, the aftermath of a storm can result in even more serious threats and injuries. The first step is to ensure that you and your loved ones are safe and undamaged. Take no additional risks by assessing your property and photographing the damage; this may be done at a later, safer time.

Downed electrical lines, broken glass, caved-in roofing materials, flooding or standing water, collapsed walls, and even difficulties with a gas line are all possible hazards. Watch for shattered glass, exposed nails, misplaced screws, and other sharp items, which are all frequent after a storm. Consider evacuating or arranging a temporary residence for you and your family, particularly if your home's roof is shaky or a wall has fallen.

2. Determine the extent of the damage and keep a record of it.

It's time to survey the entire region and analyze the damage once you think it's safe to move around your property. Seeing your treasured house damaged can be a very traumatic experience, but you must document the damage before contacting your insurance provider. This is so you can offer the documentation you need for your insurance claim, which is especially important if your policy only covers specific types of damage.

Start collecting photographs and videos of any internal and exterior damage to the house with your camera or smartphone. Always be cautious throughout the inspection because your home may have structural issues. Take the time to walk over each room and all parts of your property (as long as it's safe) to make sure your images are very thorough, noting both major and tiny faults, such as any of the following:

- Any roof holes or leaks; missing, loose, or damaged shingles; dents on vents and gutters
- Doors and windows that have been shattered
- Flooding in the basement 
- Moisture damage
- Damage caused by fire
- Power lines that are exposed
- Appliances and furniture that have been damaged or broken as a result of water damage.
- Personal property loss or damage, as most homeowner's insurance plans cover personal property up to a certain maximum.

It will also be helpful if you had taken pictures of your home and property before the storm. This way, you can compare your images of the damage to what it was like before the storm, and your insurance company won't dispute if you're blaming the storm for pre-existing damage. So, if you're worried about a storm that's approaching or hasn't yet arrived, snap photographs of your home in its typical form so you'll have them on hand if the worst happens.

3. Get in touch with your insurance agent or company.

Call your insurance company or agent as soon as possible after taking photographs of the damage to your house and explaining your situation. Discuss the damage and give photographs as well as sufficient documentation. Your agent will be able to walk you through the following stages in filing a claim by giving you a claim number and, if necessary, a list of local emergency service providers.

Following that, an adjuster will be dispatched to assess the amount of the damage so that payment for repairs may be made. You must be there when the adjuster arrives so that you may discuss all of the concerns with them and assist them to offer an accurate claim estimate. Once you've paid your deductible, they'll inform you what and how much of the damage will be covered.
Remember that most homeowner's insurance plans do not cover flood damage, so if your house is flooded, call your flood insurance carrier. If you don't have flood insurance, you might be on the hook for the costs.

4. Contact your mortgage servicer for assistance.

Aside from your insurance company, you should call your mortgage servicer—the firm to which you submit your monthly mortgage payments (which may or may not be your original mortgage lender)—as quickly as possible to discuss your mortgage relief possibilities.

If the disaster places a hard time for you to make your monthly housing payments, speak with your mortgage servicer as soon as possible to prevent being charged late penalties, which might lower your credit score. Inquire about mortgage forbearance, which allows you to make partial payments or skip payments for a set period of time. A forbearance typically lasts six months, but it can be extended for another six months.

5. Seek government aid in the event of a disaster.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assists households who have been impacted by storm damage in a number of ways. You can seek assistance with temporary accommodation, repairs, family meals, and insurance claims. If your neighborhood has been declared a storm disaster area, you may be eligible for low-interest loans to help you get back on your feet. Even if you have good insurance coverage, you may be eligible for additional government disaster aid. In order to acquire these loans, you will be asked to provide papers.

6. Make sure there isn't any further loss.

Once you're certain the storm has gone, begin clearing up the debris and making any required emergency repairs to prevent additional damage. Just remember to do it as carefully as possible, and avoid making any major, long-term repairs until an insurance adjuster has assessed the damage.

7. Save any receipts for repairs you've had done.

Make a point of saving all receipts for goods and labor, as well as keeping track of any additional costs. This is to guarantee that you are fairly compensated. To minimize difficulties and potential complications later, keep solid documentation and be organized with your paperwork for every claim to your homeowner's insurance.
Make sure you understand what your homeowner's insurance policy covers in the event of a disaster. Also, make sure you examine and update your insurance company's contact information.

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