Does my homeowner’s insurance cover storm damage to my house? Can Signature Exteriors help me deal with my insurance claim? And how long can I file an insurance claim after the storm hits?
These are some of the common questions we get from people dealing with a house hit by a storm or major rain.
Homeowner's Insurance 101
Most insurance policies will cover sudden and incidental damage from storms. Every policy is different and there are many different types of coverage available, so I really recommend meeting with your insurance agent periodically to discuss your coverage, deductible and any other items that may be important to your homeowner's policy (e.g. Did you inherit your grandmother's wedding ring last year? Did you finish your basement? These things affect your coverage).
We, as a company, are very familiar with the insurance claim process as it relates to storm damage and can help guide you through the process. However, it needs to be understood, we DO NOT "negotiate" a claim or "work on your behalf" – that is what a public adjuster does.
What we do is assist you in every step of the process and provide any information or recommendations that we can to help you get through it pretty easily. 95% of the claims we run are very straightforward and the process is very easy for the customer. Every once in awhile, we run into a very difficult case, but in those cases we will help you understand what your options are and make any recommendations on whom to contact, etc.
Residential policies usually have a 2-year limit on filing a claim, though there are a couple of companies that have a 1-year limit. It is 100% based upon your policy, that is the binding contract between you and the insurance company, and every bit of coverage and depreciation is based on that document. I recommend reading it and discussing it with your agent so that they can help answer any questions.
How to Protect Your House Before a Storm Hits
There are several things you should do:
- Have a conversation with your insurance agent to find out what your coverage and deductibles are. Do not find out AFTER an event that the letter you threw away from the insurance company was actually a notice of an increased deductible.
- Do a visual inspection of your property periodically. This allows you to identify maintenance issues that could be starting to develop before they become a major problem (like a leak). It will also give you an idea of any issues that you might have after a storm, because then you will know when things "don't look right."
- Make sure that your gutters and downspouts are draining properly. Do you have a two-story roof with a lot of trees? If so, invest in good quality gutter guards because the cost of gutter guards pales in comparison to the cost of fixing a flooded basement. And by the way, a lot of policies won't cover hydrostatic pressure.
- Say hi to your neighbors! Be nice to them. If there is a catastrophe situation (like a tornado), these are the people who will be first to help you and vise versa. I am always amazed at humanity's ability to put their differences aside and come together after a major disaster.
- Sit down with your family and develop a plan. For example, if there is a tornado while you are at work and your kids are at school, where are you going to meet them? How are you going to know that everyone is safe? Following a disaster, there may not be phone service or power, so how are you going to communicate with everyone?
A little preparation can save a lot of stress following a major disaster or even a small storm event. Knowing that your family is safe allows you to focus on helping others and getting your property put back together.
Signature Exteriors is based in the city of St. Charles, Missouri, and we also serve the counties of St. Louis, St. Charles, Jefferson, Warren, and Franklin.