How to Handle Insurance Claims and Damage After a Major Storm
Throughout the years, hurricanes and storms have caused several deaths, severe flooding, power outages and massive property damage throughout the Carolinas. Carolinians have been dealt a host of challenges when they return home to face the damage left behind by a storm. AAA would like to share tips on how to handle claims and damage during the aftermath.
AAA Tips on Insurance Coverage:
- Wind-related damage to a house, its roof, its contents and other insured structures on the property is covered under standard homeowner’s insurance policies. Wind-driven rain that causes an opening in the roof or wall and enters through this opening is also covered.
- If your tree falls on your house, your insurance will cover removal of the tree and home repairs due to damage.
- If your tree falls on your neighbor’s house, your neighbor’s homeowner’s policy would provide insurance coverage. The same holds true if your neighbor’s tree falls on your home; you would file a claim with your own insurance company.
- If a tree falls in your yard, but doesn’t hit anything, you would pay for its removal in most cases.
- Additionally, if a tree on your property is weak, damaged, or decayed, but you do nothing about it, and it crashes down, you could be held liable for damages.
- Water that seeps into a home from the ground up is considered flooding and would be covered by flood insurance, which is provided by the National Flood Insurance Program and a few private insurers. Flood insurance is available to both homeowners and renters. Flood damage is not covered by standard homeowners or renters insurance policies. Homeowners policies also include additional living expenses—in the event a home is severely damaged by an insured disaster, this would pay for reasonable expenses incurred by living elsewhere while the home is being fixed or rebuilt.
- Homeowners policies may include additional living expenses in the event a home is damaged by a covered peril. This would pay for reasonable expenses incurred by living elsewhere while the home is being fixed or rebuilt.
- Physical damage to a car caused by heavy wind, flooding or fallen tree limbs is covered under the optional comprehensive portion of an auto policy.
AAA Tips on Auto Insurance Claims:
- Car owners should contact their insurance company to determine the extent of coverage before seeking repairs.
- Take photographs of any visible damage.
- Any vehicle sustaining flood damage should be fully inspected before being allowed back on the road. Mechanical components, computer systems, engine, transmission, axles, brake system and fuel system impacted by water contamination may render the vehicle unfit to drive and in many cases vehicles sustaining significant water damage will be determined to be a total loss.
AAA Tips on Homeowners Insurance Claims:
- The first step to recovery is inspecting your home for damage and then notifying your insurance company as soon as possible.
- Prepare an inventory and take photographs of damaged property.
- Store undamaged property in a protected place if possible.
- Cover broken windows and other holes to prevent further damage.
- If carpet is soaked, remove the carpet and the carpet pad. Keep a two-foot square piece for the claims adjuster.
- Look for hazards such as broken or leaking gas lines, flooded electrical circuits, submerged furnaces or electrical appliances and damaged sewage systems. If found, contact a licensed professional as soon as possible.
- Proceed with extreme caution as you inspect your basement. There may be hazards from electrical lines and heating units. If your basement has flooded, do not pump it out all at once. Remove about one-third of the water per day. The wet ground surrounding your basement may cause the floors to buckle and the walls to collapse.
- Remove contaminated materials from the home.
- Carpeting, mattresses and upholstered furniture should be disposed of or cleaned and disinfected by a professional cleaner.
- Test drywall for moisture softness. If soft, cut holes at base to help dry out.
- If possible, run A/C, dehumidifier and fans constantly.
- If power is out, disconnect all computers and appliances from electrical sources.
- Open cabinet doors and elevate furniture allowing air to circulate.
- Save wet books or photo albums by putting them on edge in a frost-free freezer.
- Be present when the adjuster inspects your damage.