Homeowners across Texas are working hard to rebuild after Hurricane Harvey swept through the state, damaging homes and businesses and creating financial chaos. The coastal communities have seen an outpour of volunteer and professional help. Policyholders who are properly covered expect to have insurance companies take the brunt of the financial burden. Wind damage is the most common type of weather destruction seen in the lower 48 states, but how do insurance companies classify these types of claims? How do you know if you’re covered?
Wind damage accounts for nearly half of all weather-related insurance claims in the United States. After a powerful storm, it is worth getting an assessment of your property to identify structural damage. Structural damage from windstorms can occur during thunderstorms, hailstorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes. Roofs are often the most harmed from heavy winds, and a ground-level inspection will not accurately assess the amount of damage. Damage to your roof can include missing shingles, debris collision, and hail. Most policies will cover the homeowner from these types of storms.
Water damage can occur from flooding and from structural damage to your home during heavy winds. It is important to distinguish what types of policies protect you from water damage in these instances. Flooding is classified as water damage that resulted from overflowing surface waters, such as quickly rising rivers or ocean waters moving inland, and must damage at least two properties or cover more than two acres of typically dry land before taking effect. Insurance policies that cover water damage caused by flooding are only offered through the National Flood Insurance Program.
Properties that sustain heavy wind damage sometimes have shingles blown off the roof, exposing the structure to other factors of the storm, like debris and rainwater. Buildings that take considerable damage have the roof ripped off the structure completely and siding panels destroyed. Water damage sustained after these types of storms classifies as wind damage and is usually covered by basic homeowners insurance.
Water damage is difficult to recognize without formal training. If your property has been structurally damaged during a storm, you should consider obtaining professional help to identify any potential sources of water damage. Mold, mildew, and rotting wood are likely to result from unattended water damage and pose a health risk to individuals in the building.
Early casualties in wind storms sometimes include trees. Insurance companies will only agree to cover damages to your property and other structures from a fallen tree or tree limb if the tree has been properly maintained before the storm. If the loss is due to negligence or a lack of tree maintenance, then the homeowner’s policy will not cover the cost of damages. Trees that are rotting, have large branches reaching over your property, or are ready to fall before a storm will not be covered under any existing policies.
Healthy trees that have been properly trimmed and maintained can still fall on your protected property during a powerful storm. Buildings and structures, such as fences and sheds, are typically damaged by fallen trees in a windstorm. Known as “perils”, most policies cover this type of damage sustained from a windstorm.
Trees that fall but do not cause any structural damage are the owner’s responsibility. Insurance will not cover the cost to remove fallen trees and debris from the protected property. If a tree falls on your neighbor’s property and was properly maintained, then typically it is up to the neighbor to file a claim with their insurance provider. Likewise, if a neighbor’s tree falls on your property during a windy storm, you can file a claim with your insurance provider.
After a powerful storm like Hurricane Harvey, homes and businesses suffered heavy wind damage and water damage. If you noticed any structural damage after the storm, you need to document the damage and contact your insurance company immediately. Policies typically have limits as to how long you can wait to make a claim. You can ask your insurance company how long you have to file your damages. Typically, the homeowner has 60 days, but after major disasters, the deadline is sometimes extended. Once a claim has been filed, an insurance adjuster comes out to assess damages to your property. The best course of action for homeowners in this situation is to have an independent contractor give a third-party estimate. Insurance companies are being hit hard with claims from the recent storms across the country, and a trusted contractor can give you an unbiased estimate of the cost of your repairs.
As always, if you feel that you have not been treated fairly by your insurance company, don’t hesitate to get help. The professionals at Williams Hart are experienced at helping policyholders get what they deserve. We have proven time and time again that greedy corporations, trying to escape their responsibilities, will not escape justice. As members of the community, we understand the level of devastation affecting our families, and we are determined to do everything we can to help rebuild. You don’t have to settle for anything less than what you are owed. Contact us by telephone at [number], chat with us live on our website, or email us today.