Home Insurance Claim Steps

Sheri and I headed to join friends over the New Year’s holiday after checking in with all our clients located in and around where the tornadoes struck Garland, Rowlett, and the surrounding areas last week. We drove out I-30 toward where the twister struck near where the George Bush tollway and I-30 intersect. The damage sustained by the apartment buildings on the south side of the freeway was incredible; starting with rubble and progressing along the buildings to lost roofs and major damage.

There was still shattered boards and twisted metal from the apartments and highway signs on the shoulders of I-30 on Saturday. The units are uninhabitable, and I can’t even imagine what the neighborhoods in Red Oak or Rowlett across Lake Ray Hubbard look like. A friend of mine whose home remained standing was in tears as he shared what happened to his neighbors’ homes across and up the street which were totally destroyed.

Seeing a portion of the destruction helps me advise clients on steps they can take to secure their home and property as they prepare to file a claim. In this post I’ll expand on last week’s post (see https://wiseinsurancegroup.com/home-insurance-claims-after-the-storm/), and will follow this up with articles on the claims process, helpful policy coverage, and finish with a recap on how and why to create a home inventory. To help organize this, we’ll look at steps to take based on the following 3 categories of loss:

  • Unknown to minor damage
  • Moderate damage
  • Major damage to complete loss

Unknown to minor damage: Two of my clients were unsure if their home sustained damage from the storm. One had just completed installing a new roof the week before Christmas and his home is located within 300 feet of where one of the twisters touched down. The other found debris in their yard and had strong winds buffet their home.

In both cases, I advised they have their roof examined for any damaged shingles by a local roofer. I also suggested they examine all windows and siding for damage from flying debris such as cracked boards or hardi plank. If any damage is discovered, to obtain 1 to 3 estimates for repairs and compare that to their policy deductible. It’s better to find a problem now than later after a major rain storm.

Moderate damage: I define moderate damage as loss of shingles but the decking is left intact, siding or windows that are cracked or broken by the speed of the wind or flying debris, as well as items that were blown over such as fences, chimneys, etc. In most cases the home is habitable but needs work to prevent further damage from wind, rain, or other weather conditions.

In these cases, I suggest, the homeowner take pictures and/or video of all damage including shots of all the home’s sides and close-ups of damaged areas. Photos also need to be taken of any interior damage (carpet, clothing, furniture, etc.) if water entered the home through the roof or broken windows. Once photos are taken, call your agent or the insurance company to file the claim following the prepared list of damaged items. To prevent further damage, cover the roof where shingles are missing with tarps and cracked or broken windows with plastic sheets or plywood to keep further water out.

Keep receipts of all items purchased to secure your home as they should be included with the claim. If rain fell on carpet, furniture, or clothing, arrange to have items cleaned and dried after confirming what is and isn’t covered under your home policy. Keep all receipts to turn in with your other claim receipts.

Major damage or complete loss: Hundreds of homes and businesses sustained major damage (missing roofs, siding, windows, a side fell in, etc.) and some will be complete losses. In most cases, the home is uninhabitable. When this is the case, discuss with your adjuster about gaining access to the home site so you may search for any recoverable valuables such as pictures, dishes, cookware, jewelry, toys, tools, etc. Recover what you can salvage, but also use this time to begin the process of documenting what you lost.

I recommend taking a notebook and dedicating 1 to 2 pages per room to create an inventory of items in each room such as sofa, chairs, lamps, ceiling fans, TV, game console, etc. for a living or game room. Discuss with family members what contents were located in each room and give yourself a couple of weeks to add to the list as you remember items you may have forgotten about. Don’t forget to include cleaning supplies, lawn and garden equipment, linens, clothing, etc.

Take as many important papers with you as you can (insurance policies, investment account statements, credit card statements, etc.). Police restrict access to control looting and keep people safe, so it’s important to have as much with you as possible. No one ever anticipates going through something like this. Having an action plan helps us move through these times as painful as they are.

What would you do? Share your suggestions, comments, or experiences with me on my Google +, Facebook, or LinkedIn pages. I’d love to hear from you!

Evie Wise
Evie Wise


Evie Wise
Evie Wise

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