What to Do When a Wind Storm Damages Your Home
Wind storms can happen just about anywhere. Although some of the most devastating damage comes from tornadoes and hurricanes, high winds can also be the result of low-pressure weather systems, thunderstorms, or air moving over the mountains.
High winds can send tree branches crashing down onto cars, pull away shingles and gutters, or even topple entire trees into your home. Water damage from rain and overflowing catch basins, dents and cracks in shingles caused by hail, or lightning damage to electrical wiring or satellites can all occur during wind storms as well.
Detecting and Repairing Roof Damage
A severe wind storm can wreak havoc on your rooftop, particularly around the corners and perimeter. Debris is a major concern, but gusts on their own can peel away shingles, expose insulation, and open your home up to water damage.
Once the storm has passed, give your home a quick inspection to look for damages. Here’s how you can assess the state of your roof and home once the storm has died down:
- Check the roof for damage from hail by looking for missing or cracked shingles, a build-up in gutters and downspouts, and downspouts that are dented or hanging.
- Inspect the roof for missing or curling shingles, as well as tears or buckling in the flashing, loose or crumbling roof cement, dented or missing sections in the gutters and downspouts, and crumbling brick in the chimney.
- Look for water damage, which can be harder to detect right away and lead to more damage over time. You should check the gutters for water build-up; the walls for crackling, peeling, or bubbling; the windows for moisture build-up or fog between glass panes; and the ceilings for water spots or discoloration.
When a Tree Falls on Your Home
When a tree falls on your home, the damages can be expensive – and dangerous. The first call you make should be to emergency services. Your family should leave the property immediately as the structural integrity of the house may be compromised. Fallen trees can also bring down electrical lines or disrupt gas lines. Do not re-enter until the fire department tells you it is safe to do so. Once you’re safe, call your insurance company and let them know about the damage.
Even if the tree falls but misses your home, you should contact a tree removal company or similar professional. The roots of a mature tree can be extensive, potentially causing:
- Damage to your foundation,
- Cracks in the sewer lines,
- Or cracks in the brickwork or drywall of your home.
You should also contact your insurance company and initiate the home insurance claim process to access compensation for the clean-up and repairs. As part of the process, you will need to submit evidence of the damage done to your home. Document damage caused by wind or falling trees: take videos and photos that you can submit as part of your claim. Do not change or remove anything until you have documented your losses or the insurance company has sent an adjuster to review the situation.
What Happens if You Can’t Hire a Contractor?
Severe storms can affect large areas all at once. Entire cities can wind up covered in fallen tree branches and many homeowners will be left dealing with the storm’s aftermath. It can overwhelm contractors and they may require days or even weeks to visit everyone.
Though it may take time, only contact local and licensed roofing professionals and/or tree removal professionals. Make sure they have insurance, or else you may be liable if the contractor is injured on the job, or causes damage to a neighbouring property while remediating yours.
In the meantime, take steps to secure damaged areas and prevent theft while you are away. If it is safe to re-enter your home temporarily, you can put valuables in storage and board up broken windows or holes in the wall. Depending on the type of damages suffered, you may not be able to live on the property until repairs have been made. These repairs can take a while, but you may be able to make a Loss of Use / Additional Living Expenses claim under your policy.
Making an Insurance Claim
Your homeowner’s insurance should help you cover many of the expenses that arise with wind storm damage. However, some aspects might not be covered, such as damage from a dead or unhealthy tree that should have been removed prior to the storm.
In addition to contacting your insurance company quickly, and documenting damage to your home, you may also want an independent insurance adjuster to help you complete your claim.
How to Claim ALEs (Additional Living Expenses)
Some of the potential reasons you might have to be out of your home after a windstorm include:
- Water damage that could lead to the growth of black mould
- A tree falling into your home and making it uninhabitable
- Significant damage to your roof that makes your home unsafe
Additional Living Expenses (“ALEs”), also called “Loss of Use”, is an insurance exposure that reimburses the increased costs of everyday living when your family is forced to stay elsewhere while your home is unsafe or undergoes repairs. Hotel stays, short-term rentals, additional fuel and transportation costs, and storage costs can all be covered under ALE coverage. This can make the wait for a professional contractor easier to bear.
Updating Your Insurance After a Storm
There are several reasons you may want to update your insurance after recovering from a loss. If you lost any personal contents (such as the contents of a shed or items lost to water damage in a basement or attic), you could reasonably reduce your contents coverage.
Renovations or repaired damage may mean your insurance company updates your home insurance after a claim, although if you’ve made significant changes at your own expense, you may want to re-examine your policy so that you are not under-insured.
Heavy rainfall and high wind speeds can cause significant damage. Take the process step-by-step and call your insurance company when you realize there has been damage.