Answers to 8 common storm related homeowner insurance questions.

Q. My home sustained damage to its exterior due to a windstorm. What should I do until the Claims Representative arrives?

A. Your Homeowner’s policy has a provision for making temporary repairs. You should take necessary steps to protect your property from further damage. You may have tarps installed on the roof, siding, or broken windows to protect the interior from water damage. A contractor may be hired to complete these repairs. These costs are covered.

Q. My tree fell on a neighbor’s home due to windstorm. Which policy pays for its removal: mine, or my neighbor's?storm_damage_tree_on_house

A. The neighbor's policy should cover the cost of the tree removal, up to the limit of their Homeowner's policies for debris removal. Your policy may also contribute for any debris that has fallen on your own property. In most cases, homeowners are not liable for trees that have fallen on someone else's property when a windstorm has caused it to fall. (There could be some liability on the part of a homeowner if the tree should have been removed prior to the storm, due to a disease.) The Claims Representative inspecting your property will determine this.

Q. A storm has caused a general power outage in the area, and has affected my electricity for an undetermined amount of time. Is the cost of a motel covered under the insured’s homeowner’s policy?

A. No. Your property must sustain direct physical damage causing the power outage. The property must be considered unfit for occupancy in order to recover costs for motel bills.

Q. Is there coverage for interior water damage to the home if it is the result of exterior damage caused by windstorm?

A. Yes. All homeowner forms will cover damage to the interior of a home, if the home has first sustained damage to the exterior caused by windstorm or hail.

Q. Is there coverage for a flooded basement if the water enters through the sewer or sump pump system? What if the sump pump system fails due to a power outage?

A. If your Homeowner's policies includes an endorsement to cover damage to the interior of a home, and contents, as the result of sewer back up, or sump pump failure, even if the failure is caused by a power outage. The endorsement usually provides a minimum of $5000 in coverage. This is a combined limit to cover damage to the home, the contents, and any additional living expenses. Additional coverage may be purchased, usually up to a maximum amount of $50,000.

Q. Is there coverage for water that enters the home through basement walls, window wells, or the basement floor?

A. No. Water that enters the home in this manner is considered surface water, or water below the surface of the ground, and is specifically excluded.

Q. My home sustained windstorm or hail damage to the siding, roofing, or both. What happens if the same color or style of the siding, or roofing material, is no longer available?

A. Claims Representatives first look at the availability of the existing materials. If the same siding, or roofing material is available, we pay to repair only the area that has been damaged. Insurance Companies use several resources to research siding, and roofing samples for reasonable matches. These sources are able to determine if a reasonable match is available, along with the manufacturer’s name and color description. If they determine a reasonable match is not available, we then allow replacement of the entire home. A partial payment is issued, and the balance of the replacement cost is paid if it is completed within the time allowed by either the policy or the date the insurance company has determined is a fair amount of time to complete the work.

Q. What is my deductible for windstorm and hail losses? Also, if my home and automobile are damaged in the same storm, will a deductible apply to both claims?

A. The Wind/Hail deductible is prominently displayed on your declaration page. Some insurance companies have a unique benefit when you insure both your home and auto with them, it is the Common Loss Deductible. This enhancement changes the deductible provisions of the policies. A policyholder that has both their home and auto insured with an insurance company that offers Common Loss Deductible, then the insured will only have the single highest deductible applied whenever an occurrence involves both policies.