10 Things Homeowners Need to Know About Weather Claims
Updated: Mar 27, 2020
After a major weather event, our agency receives calls from customers asking if it makes sense for them to file a weather claim on their insurance if their home is damaged by the effects of the storm. We see everything from falling limbs on homes to hail damage. Weather events can also put you at risk to have a fire on your property. Sometimes the damage to a home is so severe, residents must seek temporary shelter, and are asking if their homeowners policy cover that cost. There are a lot of things people do not realize about weather claims until they are effected. Just knowing some basic pieces of information upfront can ease the angst if you have a catastrophic claim.
1. One storm can possibly be categorized as multiple events requiring separate deductibles
An example of this happened in Oklahoma years ago when tornados damaged people’s roofs, then a day later, rain damaged the homes that were already exposed due to the previous damage. While these issues were associated with the same weather front, they were separate claims. This can be confusing, and seem cumbersome. There are regulations in place with the insurance companies to assure that claims are processed properly for everyone’s longterm benefit.
2. There is a 30-day waiting period for flood insurance to kick in The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is administered by a group of insurance companies that were selected by FEMA to manage the program. A flood insurance policy is a separate policy that some homeowners have when there is a high probability of a flood occurring where they live. If there is a storm approaching and your property is not covered for flooding, it’s already too late to buy flood insurance. There’s a 30-day waiting period after the purchase before the coverage actually takes effect.
3. Catastrophe claims take a long time when storms hit, almost every homeowner affected files insurance claims immediately following the event. This means that insurance company adjusters are inundated with claims, phone calls and questions. If you have ever filed a claim you know the process… it is time consuming. Imagine what happens after a storm event when many homes in a community are filing insurance claims.
4. Catastrophe adjusters can change frequently, so document everything during widespread catastrophes, insurance companies may send in large teams of adjusters to deal with the high volume of claims. When there is a big demand for adjusters to respond to an event, it is not uncommon for some of the adjusters to be contractors who are hired on a loss-by-loss basis to handle weather disasters across the nation. This means they might not be permanent employees of the insurance firm. A changeover of adjusters during the process can be frustrating for homeowners who do not keep their own files. With anything, be your own advocate and stay organized and try to remain patient and calm through the process. We realize it is difficult to do that during a time of catastrophe so we will help as much as possible.
5. Volunteers are awesome but they can remove items and make it hard to get claims paid
Removal of debris by volunteers can be a major problem when it comes time for homeowners to submit property inventories to their insurance companies. While their intentions are good, they may be so focused on the cleanup that items are lost or thrown away in the shuffle. As much as insurance professionals appreciate the work of volunteers, they are aware that the volunteers don’t understand the insurance process. We suggest asking anyone who volunteers to assist you after a catastrophe to make a list of damaged goods rather than removing debris from your property. Perhaps a trusted volunteer could help you make copies and photos during the claims process. This will enable you to have a full inventory of your damaged belongings and avoid the frustration of not being able to show adjusters the damaged items during the process of filing a claim.
6. It is important to have an insurance agent that helps you understand your coverage
A large percentage of homeowners hit by recent hurricanes, tornadoes and wildfires find out too late that they are underinsured or misunderstand what their coverage will do for them. Make sure you go over your policy with your agent and have the coverage you need. It is beneficial to deal with a local agent in your community who will return phone calls and answer your questions. Sitting down with your agent to go over your coverage is always a great idea. No question is a dumb question when it comes to understanding your insurance coverage.