Accessing Damage After A Hurricane

Evaluating hurricane damage can be a daunting task.

So now you've survived the storm, how well did your home and property fare? Depending on the amount of damage, the task of accessing the damage could easily be overwhelming. Approaching the task from a practical standpoint could bring the job down to a more manageable size.

Know what kind of information your insurance company is going to need. Carefully read your homeowners policy and talk to your agent well before the storm becomes a threat to your area. Knowing what your insurance will cover and what it will not could eliminate stress after the storm. Make a list of the important information the insurance company will need in accessing your damage. Keep this list with your policy so it will be easily accessible after the storm. Having a videotape of the home and property, as well as the automobiles, before the storm could also prove invaluable after the storm.

When evaluating your home for damage, know the difference between what needs immediate attention and what could be put off for later. Downed power lines, broken water and sewer pipes and gas leaks all need to be called to the attention of the proper authorities. Leave the area until the danger has passed. Take normal, prudent precautions to prevent further damage from being done to your home. If possible, cover roof damage with tarps to prevent water from entering the home. Cover broken windows with plastic or plywood. Damage to outside walls also needs to be covered with tarps or plywood. Be sure to keep the receipts for any expenses you incur while protecting your home from further damage. Your insurance company should reimburse you for these expenses, but only if you have the receipts.

When accessing the damage to your home, keep in mind hidden damage such as weakening of the foundation or of weight bearing walls. Damage of this type may not be easily recognized. You may need a professional to evaluate damage of this nature.

Depending on where you are located, there could be damage to the property as well. Locations that experienced the storm surge could suffer from topsoil being washed away, or more seriously, dirt being washed away for the foundation of the home. Trees are almost always casualties during hurricanes. Make note of any downed or damaged trees for later removal. Often trees that survive the high winds of a hurricane will become victim of the salt water carried inland by the storm. Watch for leaves turning brown and dropping off in the weeks to come. Plants and shrubbery will also need careful attention after the onslaught of a hurricane. Consult your local nursery or landscaper for instructions on how to properly care for them.

Damage to storage sheds and outbuildings may be taken care of in much the same way as your home. Cover holes with tarps or plastic to prevent further damage and make note of weakened foundations or outer walls.

Once the damage has been accessed and the insurance company notified it's time to find a qualified repairperson. Be aware of scam artists in your area and report them to the proper authorities at once. Always ask for identification and references. Being a victim of a storm is bad enough, don't allow yourself to be a victim of unscrupulous scam artists.

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