Hurricane season is in full swing throughout Florida and the Caribbean and it’s important for homeowners to know what to do and how to handle any damage to their home caused by the storms. As South Florida and the Caribbean braces itself for Hurricane Matthew, residents will be boarding up windows and stocking up on essentials. There’s plenty of literature out there on what to do before a hurricane, yet many homeowners still won’t know what to do after storm damage occurs on their property.
Tropical storms alone can cause billions in losses and damaged property, let alone a much more powerful hurricane. While some of the damage may come from storm winds, it is more often the water damage inflicted by flash floods, heavy rainfall and storm surge in coastal areas that tends to wreak the most havoc on a property. Water damage is often the culprit that causes the biggest insurance claim headaches for homeowners or the biggest losses, sometimes. It’s important to handle it carefully and correctly to ensure that your property is protected and salvaged.
Many homeowners’ insurances won’t cover what they consider to be flood damage. Flood damage is often the type of water damage inflicted by storm surge. It would be in your best interest, especially if you live in a coastal area, to have flood insurance specifically. Even if you don’t live directly on the coast, storm surge can go miles inland, backing up rivers, lakes and other bodies of water, thus causing widespread flooding. In places that are high-risk and prone to floods, tropical storms and hurricanes, like Florida, many residential lenders actually require homeowners to carry flood insurance.
When preparing to file an insurance claim on a property that has sustained a hurricane or storm, first gather this information:
- Is the type of damage your home or property sustained is covered?
- Does the damage exceed the deductible on your policy?
- How long will it take to process the claim?
- How long you have to file the claim?
- Will you need to get estimates for the repairs?
- What possessions and property have been damaged or need to be replaced? It would be a good idea to take inventory of this and make a list with dollar amounts assigned to each item before filing your claim.
Take Precautions When Heading Back Home After a Storm
If you are heading back to your home after a hurricane, remember to approach your home with extreme caution. Keep an eye out for fallen power lines on or around your home; if there are any, let the local power company know right away. Once inside, (if it’s safe to enter) shut the power off from the main circuit breaker or fuse box to avoid an electrical hazard. Avoid standing water at all costs, as this is a major hazard after a hurricane. It could be hiding debris, broken glass, fecal matter or other bio-hazards due to broken pipes and sewage spills. Downed power lines or frayed, live wires in the water could cause electrocution.
If your home might be unstable or you are unsure about the severity of the damage, it might be best to wait for professional help to show up and handle the clean up instead of risking your own safety. Apart from the safety factor, it will be in your best interest to allow an adjuster to take inventory of all the damage so that your insurance claim is complete and all your losses are accounted for accurately. If any repairs are done on the property and paid for already, you’ll want to save receipts or invoices to make sure those repairs are covered by your insurance.
When it comes to cleaning up after a hurricane, it can be difficult to fight the urge to go in and start cleaning up yourself. It can feel like it’s an easy enough task and that you’d be wasting time when you could be fixing and replacing things. Even though it can be nerve wrecking to wait, it’s often the best idea to allow professional help to show s sup and handle it. Just as the power company will be called to come out and take care of downed power lines, so will a professional restoration company come out, assess the damage and begin formulating the game plan to repair it.
The insidious nature of water damage requires immediate action if you want the best chance of preventing more damage and salvaging the property. Take reasonable steps to protect your property from sustaining further damage. This might include protecting or patching up broken windows so as to keep the elements from getting in; it might also include protecting the roof, as this is where more water would pour in from directly, especially if there are residual rain showers lurking around, adding insult to injury.
South Florida based company Liberty Extraction and Drying offers free roof tarp installation services to help stop any more water from leaking into your home or property. One less thing to worry about here will be the bill, as this company bills the insurance company directly so that you pay exactly zero dollars out of pocket and show that you are taking action to help prevent further damage from being incurred on the property you insured.
They also specialize in extracting the water and moisture as well as thoroughly drying out your property. They use advanced technologies and drying methods to fully dry the property and thus preventing mold from forming and causing further damage to your property and health. Lastly, this is a service that won’t keep you waiting and wishing you could jump in and do it yourself; they boast an impressive 5 minute response time across South Florida. Not only does this help ease your worries but more importantly, it will keep more water from getting in, mold from forming or multiplying and ultimately, more damage from occurring.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, after a hurricane, you’ll want to be two things: speedy with the reaction time and careful across the board. Be meticulous and cautious as you assess the damage, attempt to clean or repair and as you collect inventory of your losses. Be speedy with the action; the longer your property or possession stay wet, the less chance you have of salvaging it.