After the Storm: How to Check Your Property for Damage

Posted by Safeco March 23, 2015

Conduct a Storm Damage Inspection

Assessing storm damage.

The beauty of spring is often tempered by powerful storms, with heavy rains, strong winds and destructive hail. Through it all, your home protects you from the elements, so be sure to check it for damage afterward.

Even if you have no reason to suspect that damage occurred, check your home and its surroundings (once it’s safe to do so, of course). It’s important to identify problems, make emergency repairs and determine if an insurance claim is necessary.

Here’s a handy list of things to check after a storm from the National Storm Damage Center:

Roof
Your roof might be the area of your home most vulnerable to damage in a storm, because so many things can impact it. Whether you’ve had high winds and downed tree branches or just a simple hailstorm, look for these indicators of damage:

  • Holes in the roof
     
  • Split seams
     
  • Missing shingles
     
  • Leaks in your roof or ceiling

Building Exteriors
While siding, stucco and brick all are durable, they also are susceptible to storm damage. In some instances, homeowners don’t notice until it’s too late to file a claim, so check carefully for:

  • Cracking, chipping or dings and dents on siding. Even if there doesn’t appear to be damage at first, check again at a different time of day. You may see something you missed when the lighting is different.
     
  • Holes in stucco. This is a serious problem, even when small, so look closely. If you find holes, have a professional conduct a full property inspection.
     
  • Damaged brick and tuck pointing. While brick typically holds up well, a check can identify any problem areas.
     
  • Detached or damaged trim, gutters, etc.

Driveways and Walkways
Concrete can chip, crack and split, not only reducing the lifespan of your driveway or walkway, but potentially creating a safety issue.

Trees
Fallen trees and limbs cause more than $1 billion in damage each year, according to the National Storm Damage Center. Keep in mind that property owners generally are responsible for removing trees and limbs that have fallen on their property, even if it is a tree from a neighbor’s yard. Your insurance policy may help to cover the cost of removal and repairs, depending on the coverage you have and the circumstances of the incident. (There are exceptions to this, depending on the maintenance of the tree, so check with your insurance agent.)

General Tips

  • Severe storms often will knock down power lines. If this happens on your property, rope off 30 feet in each direction around the line and do not touch it. Call 911 and the power company immediately.
     
  • Be sure to do a full check of your property, including things such as your air-conditioning unit, fences, vent caps, etc. And don’t forget to check your vehicles if they were not garaged at the time of the storm.
     
  • Don’t forget the crawl space. “Most people don’t ever look down there,” according to J. Szczesny, owner of 4 Seasons Home Inspections in Seattle and a Certified Master Inspector. “You need to be sure no water is getting in, and, if it is, make sure it is removed quickly via a sump pump or underground drainage system.”
     
  • Take pictures of all damage from different angles. You want to document as much as possible.

Finally, knowing the details of your homeowners coverage, your limits and your deductibles can help you during the insurance claims process. It’s a great idea to examine your policy and know what your homeowners insurance covers now, before the storm.

 

How Does Your Insurance Cover You in a Storm?

That’s a great question for your independent insurance agent. Talk to your local agent about the perils for which you have coverage and add additional coverage, as needed.

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Insurance is offered by Safeco Insurance Company of America and/or its affiliates, with their principal place of business at 175 Berkeley Street, Boston, Massachusetts, 02116. This website provides a simplified description of coverage. Nothing stated herein creates a contract. All statements made are subject to the provisions, exclusions, conditions and limitations of the applicable insurance policy. Please refer to actual policy forms for complete details regarding the coverage discussed. If the information in these materials conflicts with the policy language that it describes, the policy language prevails. Coverages and features not available in all states. Eligibility is subject to meeting applicable underwriting criteria.