It is impossible to know if your home will be damaged by severe weather, but you can prepare yourself and your homeowners insurance. It is important to know what is covered and what is not. It is a good idea to read your homeowners insurance policy, and talk to your insurance agent about any questions you may have about coverage. Take a few simple steps to help yourself in the event of a claim.
What storm damage is covered by your homeowners insurance depends on the policy you have. In general they cover wind damage, hail damage, and if a tree falls on the house. If a tree does fall on your home, your homeowners’ insurance policy will pay for the damage to the home, but if a tree falls in your yard and does not damage the home; there is no coverage for the tree itself. The homeowner’s insurance policy covers damages to the dwelling, attached structures (e.g. decks, patio, etc.), and detached structures (e.g. detached garage, shed, etc.).
Homeowners insurance does not cover damages caused from running ground water. Flash floods or any flood damages would be covered on a separate flood policy and would not be covered by a homeowner’s policy.
Talk to your insurance agent about your homeowner’s policy; ask what is covered and how damage is settled. Policies are sold as replacement cost or actual cash value (which deducts depreciation from settlements), or a combination of both for contents and dwelling coverage. You may save money initially with an Actual Cash Value policy, but you might be responsible for more than just your deductible in the event of a claim.
Take photos! Take photos of the outside of the home before storm damage. That will help in the event of a claim, and document any damage after a storm. In the event of storm damage, make any necessary emergency repairs. Document all of your belongings in the home before a storm. One way to do this is walking around your home video taping every room, while narrating what personal belongings you own.
Keep a copy of your policy in a safe place. Know how to report a claim and who to call.
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