Wisconsin gets its share of heavy windstorms, and June can be a rough month for homeowners. Even if you get through a storm with minimal damages, it’s still a stressful experience, and it can be difficult to figure out what steps you should take in the aftermath. With that in mind, let’s simplify things:
First Thing’s First: Know What’s Covered
Generally speaking, most of the damage from a storm will be covered, because your homeowner policy covers the perils of; wind, hail, and lightning. However, a typical homeowner policy will not cover flooding. Flooding is generally only covered by purchasing a separate flood insurance policy. You’ll want to review damages with your agent and they will not only help you make the decision about filing a claim but also walk you through the process.
Step One: Protect Your Property From Further Damages
Insurance is there to help us out with damages that we can’t reasonably be expected to prevent. This means that, if there’s something you can do to minimize damages, then it’s something that you should do. This means get your valuables away from broken windows, put a bucket under the leak in the roof, point a room fan at any water spots and try to ensure that a bad situation doesn’t get worse.
Step Two: Call Your Insurer
Get in touch with your agent and file a claim. Simple as that.
Step Three: Call Your Contractors
Best case scenario: You’ve already got someone in mind to patch up your roof. If not, then it’s time to do some research and find a reputable contractor in your area.
Don’t neglect your homework on this one. “Storm Chasers,” contractors who go door to door or cold-call homeowners following a storm to make a quick buck, have become such a problem in Wisconsin that the FTC and BBB have actually had to issue warning statements about these guys. At best, they do shoddy work. More often than not, they resort to strongarm sales and even fraudulent and criminal practices to close the sale, only to cash the insurance check and disappear like a thief in the night.
There was a report of a storm chaser here in Wisconsin whose M.O. involved climbing up on homeowners’ roofs with his phone and coming back down with a bunch of photos of the damages. Photos were taken somewhere else entirely on a roof that looked similar from the ground level. And that’s the kind of stuff compared to the chasers who will go up there and make sure they find some damages. What we’re saying is don’t let anyone but a trusted contractor up on your roof. Do your research, make sure your contractors have a reputation to uphold and don’t sign anything until you know everything’s on the up and up.
Step Four: Relax
Nothing rattles the nerves quite like a storm, so once you have the previous steps taken care of, just take a little time to yourself to unwind. Damages can be repaired, that’s what insurance is for, so don’t let it get to you.