Madison, WI may not get the worst Summer storms, but we get our share. Tornadoes and heavy wind and rain can chew up roofs and break windows, tear at your siding and knock down fences. Even mild storms can create damages that seem catastrophic. Fortunately, storm damages can usually be managed. We can break it down into three simple steps:
- Prevent any further damages. The initial damage caused by the storm will be blamed on the storm, but if you could have put a bucket under a leak to prevent your floorboards from getting soaked and warping, that might be seen as your insurance provider as policy-holder negligence, and not a direct result of the storm. So if you can manage the damage with tarps on broken windows or turning the water valve off until you get your broken pipes fixed, get that taken care of so that you can be fairly sure that you’re covered.
- Call your insurer. And don’t talk to anyone until you’ve called your insurer… Okay, you can call friends and family and make sure everyone’s okay, but if you’re talking damages, no reputable contractor is going to swoop in and try to get you to sign something before your insurance agency has had their appraiser look at the damages. This is where “storm chasers” prey on the anxious homeowner who just wants a quick fix. A storm chaser is a contractor who goes door to door in a storm-affected neighborhood getting desperate homeowners to sign contracts, usually never to be seen or heard from again. Get your insurer’s appraiser out there, first. Don’t let some door-to-door huckster play you for a fool.
- Research and hire a contractor to fix the damages. The more research you do on your contractors, the less likely you are to be taken advantage of by a shady dealer. There’s nothing like a disaster to bring out the best, and the worst, in humanity, and there are plenty of people out there who are looking to cash the check and do a lousy job patching your roof if they do the job at all. Take your time and make sure that you trust anyone that you’re going to be allowing to go up on your roof or into your crawlspace or under the house to fix the damages caused by the storm.
It should be said that there’s a step a lot of us skip in preparing for a storm, as well: Checking our insurance policies. You need to know what’s covered before you bother calling your insurer, and it’s better to know before the storm hits than after. For instance, most Madison, WI homeowners policies cover wind damages as part of the basic policy, but flooding might not be covered without some additional protection. You need to know what’s covered and determine whether you’re comfortable with your current level of protection.
Beyond that, just try to keep a cool head and don’t let the storm rattle you too much. Managing storm damages can be stressful, but that’s what insurance is for.