We all know how to prep for a storm. Get your storm windows up. Make sure your gutters are clean. Make sure your winterizing and weather-stripping are in order. Clear dangerous limbs from trees near your home. But we also know that Nature finds a way, and sometimes no matter how well you prep, wind and water are going to do some damage. Then what do you do?
Zoltan Kurucz and Lajos Nagy, the owners of United Water Restoration Group, have some tips for how to proceed after the Pineapple Express has its way with you.
Let Your Insurance Know
Call your insurance agent. They’re going to be busy, so the sooner you contact them the better. If you can't get to the particular agent who represents you, every insurance company has a toll-free number for filing claims. Report all the damage to your home, personal property and vehicle and don't leave anything out.
Make It Safe
An adjuster needs to inspect the damage before they'll pay out for it, so don't do any major repairs before that can happen. But you do need to do what you can to secure your property. Make minor repairs to make the space liveable if possible and to prevent further damage. Save your receipts.
If the damage is from flooding, and especially if there's standing water, make sure the electricity is off. Electrical appliances should be disconnected and if you can, move them to a dry area. The same goes for damaged household property. Get them out of the water.
Take photographs or video all the damage before you do the minor repairs if you can. If that’s not possible, definitely make a good visual record as soon as you can.
As you make minor repairs and move things around, don't throw anything away. The adjuster needs to see all your damaged property. The more they can see, the more they might cover.
If the damage is great enough to obscure your address, or even the look of your home, make sure it can be identified. Make a plywood sign with your address spray-painted on it and put it prominently out front. Include the name of your insurance company. If the place isn't liveable, add a number where you can be contacted.
Get Good Help
Finally, after you and your insurance company come to a settlement, you need a contractor. Find someone reliable who has experience in the area that needs repair. You may be feel desperate, but don't get a plumber to fix your roof or a roofer to fix your plumbing, just because they're available. Storm damage also attracts scam "contractors" looking to take advantage of people in a tough situation. Don't trust anyone who wants all the money upfront. Also, don't trust your gut. Con artists are good at putting you at ease. Always check and verify their references and don't let anyone rush you.