The Hurricane Aftermath
In the aftermath of a natural disaster like a hurricane, people want to get back to normal. Unfortunately, strong winds and high waters can cause severe damage to homes in the affected area.
If your home was damaged in a hurricane, do you know what to do? It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, but understanding a few guidelines can simplify and streamline the process.
How Do You Know When It’s Safe to Go Back Home?
It’s never a good idea to attempt to return home until government officials open the area. Staff members from utility companies and local authorities are your best sources of information in these circumstances. Government officials typically are responsible for preventing access to severely storm-damaged areas or allowing people to return. Representatives from utility companies can tell you if downed power lines, gas leaks or other hazards are making it unsafe to enter your home in particular or even the entire neighborhood.
Whenever possible, ask a technician from the utility company to come with you to inspect the damage to your house. They can alert you to any potential safety risks and perhaps even get the repair process started. If it isn’t safe to occupy your home, you may need to secure temporary lodgings. If you can stay in your home, make certain that basic safety systems like smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning.
While your home is the largest piece of property that you own and you are anxious to assess damages, remember that your personal health and safety are far more important than any possessions. Don’t disobey “do not enter” orders posted by government or utility company officials.
Does Your Home Insurance Cover Hurricanes?
Home insurance policies usually cover the basics, but they don’t necessarily cover damage caused by hurricanes. If you live in a hurricane-prone area, then adding hurricane coverage to your policy is the sensible thing to do.
The flooding that sometimes accompanies a hurricane may or may not be covered by a hurricane policy. Depending upon your insurance company, you may have to add separate flood insurance. Since the majority of hurricane property damage is a result of rising waters, flood insurance may be a necessity. If you live in a flood zone, federal law may require you to have such coverage.
Flood and hurricane insurance typically don’t take effect until the policy has been in place for at least 30 days. Take steps today to protect yourself.
Understanding Your Deductible
While your home insurance policy may have a deductible set at a dollar amount, hurricane coverage usually has a deductible that is a percentage of your home’s overall value. For example, your hurricane coverage may have a five percent deductible. On a $400,000 house, you would be responsible for $20,000 in repairs before your insurance begins paying.
Taking The Proper Steps
Once the authorities allow you back into your home, you’ll need to assess the damage so you can file an insurance claim. Take photographs of conditions in and around your home. List all possessions that have been damaged or lost as a result of the storm. The more documentation you provide, the easier this process becomes.
It’s sensible to cover leaky roofs and missing windows with tarps or boards but resist the temptation to start repairing or throwing away debris. It’s preferable for your claim to allow your insurer to see all of the damage before paying for any repairs.
Act with speed when it comes to filing a claim. Requests for visits by assessors are handled in the order they are received, so the sooner you file a claim, the sooner you will have an assessor at your property. Be prepared to share photographs and documentation about the damage with the assessor.
Give Yourself Time To Heal
Hurricanes may blow through a community in a matter of a couple of days, but the recovery effort typically takes far more time. When your home and possessions are severely damaged, the situation can feel overwhelming.
Try to take the recovery effort one small step at a time. In circumstances like these, even a new doorknob should be seen as a victory and bring you just a little closer to normal.