Storms can be scary. Even a mild storm can knock out power for days, and you never really know how bad the damages are until you take a look. If you run down this checklist, you should be able to get everything in order following a storm:
- Know what’s covered. Most homeowners policies will cover wind damages, but flood damage resulting from a storm may require an additional policy.
- Protect yourself from further damage. This is actually a contractual obligation in your insurance forms, but more than that, it’s just a good idea. The damage isn’t always immediate. If a pipe breaks, for instance, shut off your water valve. If you have a leaky roof, put a bucket under it. Do a check of your property and get any problems dealt with before they get any worse.
- Call your agent and file a claim. We always like to hope that the damages are minimal, that they’re nothing we can’t repair ourselves the next time we get a free afternoon, but that’s not always the case.
- Get in touch with contractors for repairs. And do your research. You may have heard of “storm chasers,” opportunists who roll into the neighborhood promising to patch up the damages. These fly-by-night operators are preying on your desperation. That roof needs to get patched up, and they’re promising it won’t cost you a dime, your insurer will pay for it! At best they’ll just do shoddy work. More likely than not, they’ll cash their checks, and you’ll never hear from them again. The problem got so bad in 2016 that the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission issued warnings regarding these “contractors.” Here are some tips to stay safe from storm chasers:
- Have your insurer look at it, first. They’ll get you the estimates, and may recommend certain contractors in your area.
- Don’t sign anything. The contracts storm chasers make up usually aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on, but you don’t want to take any chances.
- If the contractor reaches out to you, and not the other way around, they’re probably not to be trusted.
- We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Do your research! Look into any company you’re doing business with. If you can’t find anything about them online except for a shoddy looking website, there’s a good chance that that’s because the company didn’t exist a week ago.
- Make sure the damages are assessed before letting a contractor on your roof. Chasers are known actually to create damages themselves to justify the contract.
- Stay calm. Chasers prey on desperation. A major storm can be traumatic; your nerves are rattled; you’re worrying about the expenses. If you can get in control of your emotions, chasers will learn quickly that you’re not worth the effort to try and swindle.
Once all of this has been sorted, just take some time to relax. Dealing with a storm is stressful, it’s emotionally, mentally, and physically taxing, but your home can be repaired and damaged belongings can be replaced. A storm is a problem, but it’s a problem that can be managed.