Sudden windstorms leave homeowners and business owners in difficult situations, especially if they have to add struggles with the insurance company to their list of problems. That’s why it’s best to be prepared. Even when a hurricane or tornado isn’t present, high winds can cause severe structural damage. So no matter how serious it is, from a few missing shingles to a total loss, it’s important to be ready to work with the insurance company—even if you don’t expect much of a fight to settle your claim.
Although you probably expect to review your policy and fill out some paperwork, you might not anticipate the amount of footwork necessary to make sure your claim is settled efficiently. There are some things you must do as a policyholder, but there is also additional information you might like to prepare before an adjuster visits. To help you get started, here’s what to know about settling your claim.
The First Steps to Take After High Winds Have Damaged Your Property
Under most insurance policies, a home or business owner is expected to take steps very shortly after high winds or a storm. This means you should immediately:
- Check your property. If there have been high winds in your area, check your property for any damage to the exterior of your home or business, including roofs, windows, doors, and siding. You might consider contacting a professional who has the right tools, equipment, and knowledge to identify problems.
- Review your policy. Read over the most current copy of your policy to get a better idea of your potential coverage and what the insurance company requires from you.
- Contact your insurance company. If you notice anything damaged, notify your insurance company of the loss. Also use this opportunity to ask questions about your coverage, your deductible, how long it might take to resolve your claim, what information you need to submit, if certain contractors are required, and so on. You should be able to leave the call with a good understanding of how to get the ball rolling.
- Consider temporary repairs. Check the damage to your home or business and determine if temporary repairs are needed to keep damage from getting worse. Take pictures of the damage before you get started, and make sure an insurance company adjuster doesn’t need to see the building in person beforehand. Save all receipts and documentation from your temporary repairs.
What You Should Have Ready to Settle a Wind Insurance Claim
Once you finish the basic steps, there’s still a lot you can do to make it easier to settle a claim for wind-related damages, no matter how severe. After reviewing your policy and notifying your insurance company, here’s an idea of what else to prepare before an adjuster visits:
- A list of personal property that has been damaged. Make a list of all items damaged by the windstorm, and keep this with any relevant receipts. Don’t replace, repair, or throw away these items before an insurance adjuster completes an evaluation. You might also want to keep photographs of the damage for reference.
- A reminder of what needs to be seen on the walk-through. Make a list of everything you want the adjuster to see, including damage to the roof, general structural, outbuildings, pools, and more. This helps you remember to mention some of the lesser damage and know that everything is thoroughly covered during the visit.
- Copies of all communication and documentation. Make copies of any documentation you send to and receive from the insurance company. Hold onto all receipts, including those for temporary repairs or housing while you’re displaced. Also confirm that you have a current copy of your insurance policy.
- Repair and replacement estimates. Get repair or replacement bids from several contractors, and don’t overlook potential “hidden” damages from the storm. These might include damage to HVAC systems, damaged shingles, small leaks, and other issues. If possible, request that the bids include itemized details of the projected costs.
By taking the time to gather this information and prepare for the adjuster’s visit, you give yourself a much better chance to resolve your wind insurance claim quickly and fairly.
Having Trouble Reaching a Fair Settlement for Wind Damage Claims?
If you’ve communicated with your insurance company and followed appropriate steps, you should be well on your way to settling your wind damage claim. However, if you are offered a settlement that doesn’t seem quite right, you might want to check into your legal rights before you accept. While many insurance claims are resolved without concern, home and business owners can run into a number of common issues, including:
- Disagreements about coverage terms
- Unfair denials
- Repair versus replacement costs
- Delays in claim resolution
- Underpayments or undervaluing repair costs
Although these kinds of issues can be frustrating, it’s possible to overcome the challenges and still get what you deserve from your claim—but you will probably need help. If you have questions about a homeowner’s insurance claim that you believe has been unfairly delayed, denied, or underpaid, don’t hesitate to reach out to our experienced policyholder attorneys today at 888-614-7730.