We’ve had some pretty severe thunderstorms this year, with more likely to come. While the weather can be frightening, as a homeowner, so is what follows. The prospect of surveying your property for damage and starting the cleanup process can be daunting (to say the least). Depending on what happened, your homeowner’s insurance may provide needed assistance, but at Freedom Insurance Agency, we want to help regardless! So, here are some tips to guide you through the process and keep you safe.
Step 1: Wait until the storm has completely passed.
Although you want to see what happened and begin any necessary repairs as soon as possible, you don’t want to risk your safety in the process. So, check the local forecast before going outside for any length of time and wait until the rain, wind, lightning, etc. is completely over. Even if it’s no longer raining, thunder and lightning can linger in the area, presenting a hazard. Wind is even worse because it can potentially dislodge any tree branches or debris that were originally damaged in the storm. Try to wait until you have enough light to see any potential dangers, too. A flashlight is great for emergencies, but not cleanups.
Step 2: Assess the situation.
Once you’re able to go outside and see the damage for yourself, it’s important to take stock of all the problems. Some common issues left in the wake of a severe storm include missing or damaged roof shingles, battered gutters, broken windows and/or frames, dented siding, and missing or cracked pavers. Remember, some of these signs may be small, but they’ll definitely grow into a larger problem if left untreated. So, be very thorough in your inspection—particularly when looking for water damage. Your electronics may also have taken a beaten, so double check that your appliances, TV, computers, etc. are all working properly once the power’s back on.
Step 3: Begin cleaning up.
Even if there is a major issue, like a downed tree, you don’t want to wait for your insurance company to come out and fix it. While you may be eligible to file a claim if the tree fell from natural causes (not neglect) and damaged either your house or outbuildings in the process, you can start to remove the debris before you contact us. Just be sure to take plenty of photos documenting what it looked like (post-storm) and the problems it created. Then, you can send the evidence over to us for processing even as you’re cleaning up.
When it comes to lingering floodwater, take extra precautions. Children and pets should be kept away from it as much as possible. Plus, any chemicals that came in contact with it need to be disposed of separately for safety reasons. In older homes with aged tiles, ceilings, roofs, piping, etc. you also need to be wary of the potential presence of asbestos. So, make sure you’re wearing the right gear, including goggles, gloves, and a respirator mask.
If you need help with this part, there are services that specifically handle after-storm (and particularly after-flood) clean ups. You should consider calling them, or another qualified professional, if you find anything that could be potentially unsafe—such as exposed wiring, asbestos, or holes in your exterior. Bringing in an experienced contractor as quickly as possible will have your house back to normal in no time! So, when the next storm rolls through, remember these tips from Freedom Insurance Agency. You can also call us with any questions about your homeowner’s insurance in the wake of bad weather. We’ll be here for you!