Reading time: 4 minutes
Thunder might not only signal an oncoming storm. It might also warn of oncoming insurance claims.
Hailstorms, windstorms, and broken pipes are the most common homeowners insurance claims – and the most expensive ones – that Orlando Berryman of Oberryman Insurance Agency has encountered during his 20 years in the insurance industry. Based in the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. area, Orlando has seen it all – home fires, massive floods, and even wine collection insurance policies.
With the recent storms that have swept through the coastal states, we reached out to Orlando for some quick tips to help prevent and mitigate wind or hailstorm damage in your home.
Imperative windstorm and hailstorm information
You don’t need to live in “hail alley” (Nebraska, Colorado, and Wyoming) to see hailstorms. In fact, more than 10 million homes in 2017 suffered hail damage, and Texas alone saw more than 192,000 claims in 2019.
So if you’re wondering, “Is hail damage covered by home insurance?” the good news is most likely yes.
“Unless you live in an area that excludes, hail and windstorm coverage are included in standard homeowners insurance,” explains Orlando. “Hail damage is one of the most common claims on homeowners insurance. Fortunately, most basic homeowners insurance policies cover structural property damage from hazards like hail. It’s covered under what’s called dwelling protection coverage (sometimes called Coverage A).”
Until recently, most standard home insurance policies covered storm damage from wind and hail. It can exclude payments for damage to exterior surfaces, including walls, roofs, doors, and windows from hail or wind if the storm impacts the appearance but not the function of these elements.
Some companies have begun offering a separate deductible for hurricane and windstorm damage to coastal areas that see a high frequency of storms. Since Orlando’s agency is not located in those regions, he has never sold a separate deductible for hail/windstorm/hurricane damage.
If you’re unsure about your coverage, give your agent a call. It’s important to have the right coverage the effects of hail and windstorms can linger and be acute.
“We’re still suffering from a 2016 storm and getting claims for roof damage,” says Orlando.
Before the storm hits
“If you know that there’s a hurricane or storm coming, prepare,” Orlando urges.
Some common home preparation steps include:
- Getting items off your basement floor if the area routinely floods.
- Readying your survival kit in case you lose power or need to evacuate.
- Creating a home inventory by taking pictures/video of your home and your possessions.* (The vipHomeLink app is a perfect place to store this!)
- Finding a reliable contractor in case you need repairs once the storm passes.
If you don’t have a trustworthy contractor yet, start your search for one before a storm is barreling toward you. This will help to safeguard you against “storm chasers.”
“These people come through neighborhoods and tell homeowners that they have damage because the neighbor’s house may have had some,” says Orlando.
By having a contractor you trust, you can ask them to come out and assess any damage. You should also have that contractor – or another independent contractor – check your roof once a year for loose or missing shingles.
“A homeowner might not know that they even have roof damage until they go to sell the house or until later on because they might not have any leaks,” says Orlando. “They don’t know because no one gets up on their house and inspects it.”
Stay on top of roof damage as insurance companies will not cover a roof replacement if the damage comes from wear and tear and not the storm. Plus, roof damage can worsen if not addressed, so it’s best to hire a roof specialist to take care of any damage you see immediately.
What to do after a hailstorm or windstorm
You need to mitigate the damage as much possible. If you can’t wait for the insurance adjuster to come to your home, take pictures of the immediate damage to help when you file a claim. Then start to address your home’s needs. This may include putting up a tarp if you have roof damage from a windstorm or cleaning up your yard from any debris.
If you have water damage, you’ll want to contact a restoration company as soon as possible as water damage can lead to worse issues, such as mold.
Then, remove as much water as you can, whether by squeegee on hardwood or laminated floors, or even towels on carpets. Just be careful when using fans to dry the floor or trying to sop up water with a dry vac.
Warns Orlando, “You don’t want to plug in something and get electrocuted, so be careful when doing anything with electricity.”
Beware of flood damage
It is important to note that flood damage and water seeping up from the ground are not typically covered by homeowners insurance.
“Flood is the typical issue that we see with the heavy rains and tropical storms,” says Orlando. “That’s excluded under homeowner’s policy, so homeowners do need a special policy for it.”
Mortgage companies require homeowners to have flood insurance if they live in a designated flood zone. However, you may not need to live in a flood zone to get – or need – flood insurance.
Notes Orlando, “I offer it to all my clients, regardless if they’re in a flood zone or not, just because of the weather we’ve been having the last few years.”
Be ready for every home threat
Our home management app helps you to know what to do and when to do. We also send personalized reminders for home maintenance and tailored recommendations for home improvement right to your phone.
As we mentioned earlier, you can also use our app to hold your home inventory – just in case your home does suffer wind, hail, or any other damage. Upload pictures or video of your home and possessions, and a spreadsheet with all the necessary information your insurance company will need to reimburse you.
Give your house a home with vipHomeLink. Sign up for a monthly or annual membership.
Looking for homeowners insurance information? Contact Orlando Berryman at the Oberryman Insurance Agency now.
* Orlando suggests his policyholders take pictures of personal possessions every six months for their home inventory.