Windstorms may not have the force of a tornado or the severe rainfall carried by hurricanes, but they can lift whole roofs off of structures and destroy open land. Schools face unique risks from high winds, and require detailed and customized insurance coverage in order to stay open to their students. Attorney Bill Voss explores ways to protect your educational institution from wind damage as well as the steps to take to get proper compensation after a storm.
How School Administrators Can Respond Quickly to Wind Damage
Administrators have a duty to make their premises safe after a storm, but they should be cautious about removing debris without coordinating efforts with city managers. Fallen or hanging branches may be in contact with downed power lines, broken windows may shatter during removal, and cleanup crews can suffer injuries as they attempt to mitigate the damage. Administrators should also take photographs of the damage before and after cleanup to bolster their commercial insurance claims.
Once it is safe to return to the damaged property, administrators should:
- Report the damage to the insurance company. Winds often damage roof tiles, siding, trees and landscaping, outbuildings, and adjacent sports stadiums or playing fields—and all repairs must be performed with respect to current building and zoning codes. If any school buses or transportation vehicles were damaged, you must also file a claim under your commercial auto insurance.
- Check the TWIA policy. Schools in Galveston and Harris Counties may need special insurance coverage through the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA). TWIA coverage can cover the damage when private insurers impose wind and hail exclusions for schools along the coast.
- Rely on business interruption insurance. Business interruption insurance offers a way to provide for students while the school is under repair. Common expenses covered include relocating students to a temporary learning facility, faculty payroll, alternate cafeteria facilities, and implementing online courses.
- Prepare for a fight. High winds may travel with other weather perils—such as rainstorms and hail—that may be excluded under your existing policy. When this happens, policyholders may need assistance to hold insurers accountable for the damage.
If you are struggling to rebuild a school after a severe wind storm, our attorneys can work to get full and fair payment from your commercial insurance carrier. Simply fill out the form on this page today to contact an insurance attorney at the Voss Law Firm or order a free copy of our book, Commercial Property Owners Must Read This BEFORE Filing an Insurance Claim.