Extreme Weather Season: Will Your Home Be Covered When the Storms Hit?

When a tornado, hurricane or other severe weather phenomenon is heading toward your town, the last thing you want to think about is whether or not you have the proper insurance coverage. Your focus should be on getting your loved ones to safety, not if you will have to pay for a new roof out of your own pocket.

The following tips can help homeowners select the best type of insurance coverage for their home, as well as know what to do in the event of an emergency:

Know your categories

As Homeowners Insurance Guide notes, the definition of “property” as it applies to your insurance policy varies a bit from state to state as well as between companies. To be sure that you have the proper coverage, it’s important to know what is generally considered to be a “covered” property. For example, the actual house where you live falls under this definition. Other categories to discuss with your insurance agent include any other structures you might have on your property like a detached garage, a shed or a barn; personal property like furniture and appliances; and the loss of use category, which applies when the home is no longer safe for people to live there.

Open versus named perils

In the world of insurance, a “peril” is something that will cause a loss to occur to a home. These can range from fires and floods to other hazards. While a package policy offers coverage for many types of perils, it is not usually all-inclusive. As a homeowner, you can also purchase extended coverage to handle other perils, including windstorms, hail, and broken glass. If you live in an area of the country that is prone to getting hurricanes, tornadoes, haboobs (sand storms) or other potentially devastating weather-related conditions, it’s vital you speak with your insurance agent sooner rather than later to verify what is covered in your homeowners policy and, if necessary, purchase additional specific insurance. For example, while the majority of property insurance policies cover damage that results from hurricanes, it might not extend to taking care of anything flood-related. Since hurricanes inherently involve a lot of water and flooding can be an issue, this is an important point to discuss with your agent. If, after speaking with your insurance company, you are not happy with the coverage that you have or you feel that the price is too high, it might be a good idea to visit a website like QuoteWizard to quickly and easily compare rates and features of a variety of insurance companies.

What to do after disaster strikes

If the worst happens and a tornado, hurricane or other natural weather disaster hits your home, contact your insurance agent as soon as it’s safe to do so. You will probably set up an appointment for an insurance adjuster to come by and assess the damage to your home and belongings. As House Logic notes, in the case of a hurricane, these visits will be scheduled in order of the amount of damage, so be sure to provide your agent with an accurate estimate of how badly your home has been impacted.

To get ready for the visit with the insurance adjuster and help prepare for the entire process of filing a claim, create a home inventory list that includes detailed information about what was damaged — this includes the model numbers of appliances, computers and how much you paid for these now-damaged items. Although you probably want to start cleaning up, don’t throw anything away until the claims adjuster has come by to check out your property. Be as patient as possible during this time; chances are good that your insurance company is dealing with dozens of other claims and it may take some time before you receive your compensation.

As Channel3000 reminds us, homeowners who are dealing with storm-related damage can fall prey to dishonest contractors; once you have settled with your insurance company and have the money needed for repairs, be sure to hire someone based on referrals and references, get a written contract for the work to be done, and avoid door-to-door contractors who show up wanting to fix your roof.

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