How to Get the Most Home Insurance Help After a Winter Storm

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Talking to your insurer and documenting everything will help you manage and recover from serious storm damage.

Many homeowners are still reeling from the devastating winter storms that ravaged the country.

Millions have been left without power in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and other states due to severe weather. This has caused billions of dollars worth of property damage and put millions out of work. Home flooding is a common occurrence due to burst pipes. Mold growth and other problems are likely to follow.

Homeowners insurance can be essential to recovery, but it’s important to act quickly, keep good records and pay close attention to the details of your policy. These are the top four ways you can get the best value from your home insurance when dealing with severe storms.

Reexamine your homeowners insurance policy

Your safety and that of your family is the first priority. Mark Friedlander, spokesperson for Insurance Information Institute, states that once you have this under control, it is time to review what your home insurance policy covers.

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Look at your policy’s declarations page to see what types of damage are covered, your coverage limits and your insurance deductible. To clarify anything, please contact your agent or insurer.

The policy’s key distinctions could save you thousands of dollars. Some policies cover the cost of replacing damaged items, while others only reimburse the cash value. Replacement cost coverage will pay for the purchase of a similar new TV if your TV is damaged by a burst pipe. The actual cash value will pay the amount the insurer believes the TV is worth after five years of depreciation.

Notify your insurer about the claim

You should immediately notify your agent or insurer if a storm has damaged your home.

David Sampson is the president and CEO at American Property Casualty Insurance Association.

Friedlander believes technology will help you explain what happened. If you have the opportunity, take pictures. Videos are great, but you should at least take pictures with your smartphone so that you can document the damage.

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Liz Heigle, communications director at Oklahoma Insurance Department, advised in an email that you don’t throw away any items that could affect your claim, unless your insurer has specifically authorized it. She recommends that you keep a list of all people who have spoken to your insurance company regarding your claim.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought about social distancing guidelines that made it easier and faster to begin the claims process. Friedlander states that in most cases, insurance companies will conduct the initial damage assessment online. However, they reserve the right to visit the victim personally for more severe cases.

Heigle suggests that you be present for any adjuster who needs to inspect the damage. You can leave a note with contact information for the adjuster if you are unable to make it.

Do what you can

After you have spoken to your insurance, you can make any necessary repairs.

You don’t need to wait for a contractor to come to your home if a pipe leaks water. You can make emergency repairs with no insurance coverage as long as you are clear about what steps you should take.

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Be sure to keep track of all expenses when you make repairs. All the items you purchase to fix the problem are covered by your claim.

You may have to temporarily move to another place if you are without power or water due to a winter storm. Your insurance company will usually pay for your additional living expenses while your home is damaged or destroyed. However, there may be limitations on coverage so make sure to discuss your options with your agent.

Beware of fraud

Insurance fraud is a common problem in the aftermath of serious storms. People are often tempted to take advantage of their desperate situation by taking too much money or inflating the cost of a job.

David Glawe, President and CEO of National Insurance Crime Bureau, stated that money will either come from the federal government or insurance.

Consumers can avoid falling for these scams by following certain steps, Camille Garcia, spokesperson at the Insurance Council of Texas, said in an email.

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She suggests that you check references and read online reviews before hiring a contractor. Then, pay in installments once the work is complete to your satisfaction.

Garcia warns that you should not sign over your insurance proceeds to a contractor.