Hurricane Ian just devastated Florida with its strong winds and flooding rains. But anyone, regardless of whether or not they live in an area that is vulnerable to hurricanes, can suffer from extreme weather and the resulting damage to their homes and property. Hurricanes, tornados, blizzards, thunderstorms, and strong wind events are just some of the causes of immediate and catastrophic damage to homes. If it happens to you, what do you do? How do you handle the moments and days after the severe damage occurs, to ensure the best possible outcome for your home and family?
Expect the Expected
You don’t have to live in a coastal area or in “tornado alley” to suffer from wind damage to your roof. Any area of the country can be hit by severe storms, strong winds, or natural disasters. Planning ahead for a potentially catastrophic event can help you to hit the ground running after sudden roof damage and can help things to go smoothly. Knowing the details of your homeowners insurance, and having the policy in an easy-to-find and easy-to-access place, can help you if you need it on short notice. Having an existing relationship with a trusted, local roofing company can really help to speed up any needed repairs, because you can skip the part of the process where you need to research a good contractor and choose the one that’s right for you. The same roofing contractor that can answer your everyday questions and help you with regular roof maintenance is exactly the one you’ll want to call if disaster strikes.
More than anything, make sure to prioritize your safety and the safety of others. Even during a weather emergency and a time of severe damage to your home or roof, the priority needs to be on keeping everyone safe. Don’t go out into dangerous weather to assess damage or to attempt temporary repairs. Chances are, you won’t be able to solve the problem in the middle of the weather event, anyway, and attempting to do so can put yourself in danger. Wait until the threat has passed and you’ve determined that there’s no longer any danger from wind, weather, electricity, or unstable construction before attempting to assess any damage or begin repairs.
As soon as its safe to do so, take pictures of everything. Photograph the exterior of your home, in as much detail as possible, including any tree limbs or other objects that caused damage. Don’t forget to take pictures of any damage that extends to the interior of the house – any items that were involved, or any water that has come in as a result of the roof damage. This is essential for any insurance claims, and it can help your roofing contractor to assess the damage before they’ve even arrived on site. It can also be helpful to save any news articles on the damage to your local area, in the event that the insurance company attempts to dispute the source of the damage.
Get in Touch with Your Insurance Company
Most of the time, in a severe weather damage situation, you won’t be the only one trying to get in touch with the insurance companies. Contact them as soon as you can to get instructions on how they want you to proceed with getting estimates for your necessary repairs. They will probably provide you with information on the types of documentation that will be required in order to successfully make a claim against your insurance policy.
Contact a Local, Trusted Roofing Company … Actually, Contact Several
If you have a local roofer that you already use for regular repairs and maintenance, definitely call them first, and see what they can do for you. Your insurance company may require that you get several estimates on the repair work, though, or you may find that your regular roof repair company has a significant waiting list after a weather-related disaster. So, call around to other local companies if you need to. Definitely stick with a local roofing contractor with a great reputation, though – often, severe weather events bring in opportunists looking to snap up insurance money or take advantage of desperation. Sticking with a company that has roots in your community is your best bet to get quality work that the contractor will stand behind into the future.
Keep Your Receipts
Make sure to keep receipts from all estimates, repair work, clean up, and item replacement as a result of the damage. Your insurance company will need these in order to authorize reimbursement.
If You Aren’t Sure, Ask
Sometimes, a severe weather event might only result in minor damage to a roof or other property. You might not be sure if it even warrants the attention of a professional, or whether it’s a good idea to get your insurance company involved. If you aren’t sure, just ask! A local roofing company in your area will be happy to come out, take a look, and give you a professional opinion at no cost to you. They have the experience to make the best judgment on whether a problem really is small, or just looks like it is.