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Here's what you need to do if your home is damaged in a storm

Posted: 8:07 AM, Jul 14, 2015
Updated: 2016-08-25 10:20:09Z

Have you found storm damage? Here's what The National Storm Damage Center says you need to do:

SAFETY FIRST

Downed power lines? Stay away from them and call your utility company.

ASSESS THE DAMAGE

The roof is most susceptible to costly damage. If a tree limb or other heavy debris fell on your roof during a storm, your home might have structural damage, so be cautious.

Common signs of roof damage are:

  • Holes in the roof
  • Split seams
  • Missing shingles
  • Bruises or dented asphalt shingles
  • Cracked or broken tile, slate, or concrete shingles
  • Granules collecting in gutters or downspouts
  • Leaks in your roof or ceiling
  • Dents on vents, gutters, or flashing

Windows and doors are vulnerable to wind damage and flying debris. Inspect your windows for cracks, holes, broken panes and damaged frames. Watch out for shards of glass, and be sure to board up broken windows until they can be fixed.

Look for damage to siding, paint, bricks and other exterior surfaces of your home. Also check outdoor appliances, like air conditioning units. You're looking for dings, dents, cracks, splitting, holes, breaks chipping and discoloration.

The NSDC can also assist with no-cost home damage inspections and repair estimates. Contact NSDC here .

REPORT DAMAGE

Homeowners or businesses that suffered damage from recent storms and flooding should contact their insurance provider, then their county emergency management agency. 

Contact information for county emergency management agencies can be found online here .

You'll want to get started on the claims process right away -- many policies limit the time you have to file a claim. 

MORE | Storm damage insurance FAQs

The NSDC offers this seven-step guide to beginning the claims process:

Step 1: Assess the storm damage. Record the date of the storm, signs of damage you can see from the ground, and take pictures of any damage. Search online for news stories of the storm hitting your area, so you have proof if it is ever required.

Step 2: Contact several reputable storm repair contractors and obtain 3 written proposals. Make sure your contractor performs a full property inspection, including the roof, windows, siding, AC units, screens, concrete and all other exterior surfaces.

Step 3: Read your insurance policy carefully and contact the claims department of your insurance company directly. Be prepared to provide pictures, and the estimate from the contractor you have chosen to work with.

Step 4: Request an insurance adjuster inspection. Insist your contractor is present during the adjuster inspection. Your contractor's job is to make sure the adjuster plays fair, and provides you with a fair assessment. Remember, the insurance adjuster works for the insurance company and may have an incentive to deny your claim, if they think they can.

Step 5: If your claim is denied, don't worry. You are entitled to meet with three insurance adjusters. Remember, even a small amount of damage should result in an approved claim. Any type of damage can devalue your home and damage should be fixed immediately before it leads to greater damage down the road.

Step 6: Once your claim is approved your insurance company will send you 2 separate payments. The first payment, or materials deposit, covers the cost of materials. Make sure your contractor orders materials in your name, and uses your check to pay for your materials.

Step 7: After your materials are delivered, your contractor will get to work. Any changes to the written bid should be submitted in writing for your approval. No additional payment is due until all the repairs are complete. Once your project has passed a city inspection, you will have a chance to approve the job before making final payment. Make sure the job is done to your satisfaction and your contractor signs a lien waiver, before handing over the second payment.

Also note: If your car was damaged in the storm, that falls under your car insurance policy, not your homeowners insurance.

HIRE WITH CARE

If your insurance is going to cover the cost of hiring a contractor, there's no reason to try to DIY the repairs. 

Be careful though -- some scammers target homeowners after storms.

Here's how to not get scammed on repairs.

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