Last night, the residents of North Dallas were greeted with tornado sirens during October. Yes, North Texas residents can hear storm sirens year round as crazy as that may seem. Since we still have hot days which can help pump up the energy for super cell thunderstorms and cool fronts which roll in from the North, the results can be stunning for all the wrong reasons. We spend a lot of time counseling Texas homeowners about their Texas Home Insurance hail coverage as it is a major claim for them. But what about the other aspects of a storm from the start to finish?
Before A Texas Thunderstorm
When you live in Texas, North Texas especially, you need to be prepared for the potential of a Super Cell Thunderstorm all year round. Did you now that October is a second "storm season" and that we have had tornadoes during all twelve months? Our connected to technology society has advantages that we did not have in prior generations for storm awareness. For many of us, we have a phone in our hands at most times that alerts us of all sorts of things, including storms. One thing that we must emphasize is that you actually heed the warnings!
A recurring theme of problems are people who do not think a warning is a big deal or applicable to them. When a warning is issued or the sirens go off in your neighborhood, seek shelter. The National Weather Service and meteorologists everywhere do brilliant work. We understand that Texas weather is some what unpredictable and it seems like they just can't get it right. But the reality is that we would rather you not be dead. And an issued warning means that your life could potentially be in harms way. It's just not worth being a hero. Along with this novel concept of heeding warnings is to have a predefined plan before the warning is ever issued. Your family should know where to go in your home when the time arises and move there quickly without question.
During A Texas Thunderstorm
The biggest thing that you can do during a storm that requires a warning is to eliminate flying glass. Make sure that you have a space in your home that can protect you from glass from windows that may blow in. An interior bathroom is typically a great location for this as they don't have windows and the walls are close to provide support. The bathtub makes an excellent location for you find additional shelter since they are tough to crush. If you have pets and/or children having them in the bathtub with a pillow to cover their heads can provide an extra layer of protection while the storm is blowing through.
After A Texas Thunderstorm
The moments and days following a storm are when a local insurance agent can make a huge difference for you. Your local insurance agent can help guide the process of whether or not to file a claim along with answering questions about what comes next. Here's a handy process list of what to do.
- Assess Damage and Secure Property - Can you visibly see damage? Did you lose the roof, trees, or windows? Is there water coming into your home? Be sure and check your attic space to make sure that you do not have water intrusion. Tarps can make an excellent stop gap to prevent water coming in to your home and causing more damage.
- Take Pictures - If you are in a position to secure your property and clean up some debris, taking pictures will help your claims adjuster understand the scope of the problem.
- Talk To Your Local Agent - Your local agent will be able to help you understand if you have a claim against your home insurance policy or not. They will be able to answer questions about the claim process. They will be able to recommend reputable contractors who can help you understand the scope of damage prior to filing a claim. They can help expedite your claim's completion. Most of all, talk to them.
- Get An Inspection From A Reputable Contractor - One of the biggest mistakes we see Texans make with their home insurance claims is to file a claim when the damage to their home is less than their deductible amount. One of the best ways to make sure you don't make this mistake is to work with a reputable contractor who has experience with the claims process.
- To Claim Or Not To Claim - At this point, you and your Independent Insurance Agent can make a decision on filing the claim. Obviously, if you lost your roof or have no windows this is not a question. But many of the potential storm claims we help Texas homeowners work through are not that cut and dried. A great insurance agent can help you navigate this process.
The Claims Process
When you do file a claim, there are several things that you should keep in mind.
- If you cannot stay in your home due to damage, your Loss of Use coverage will cover your costs to stay in an alternative location while your home is repaired.
- You will be expected to pay your deductible. Very simply, it's fraud in the state of Texas if you do not pay your wind and hail deductible.
- If you had items in your house that were damaged due to water or other issues that are a result of the damage that causes the claim, you can replace those under your personal property. Collect an inventory to speed this process up.
- Show up to discuss the claim and any issues with your adjuster. It should be obvious, but simple communication makes claims go better.
- Do not sign final documents to close the claim until you are satisfied that the items covered by your home insurance policy have been completed. When in doubt, involve your agent. They will be able to help you with this very important step.
Thunderstorms are as Texan as great brisket and Friday Night Lights. How you handle them can make all the difference in the world. If you need a great local, independent insurance agent to help you navigate the twisty winds of Texas storms, schedule a time to look at your coverage with an agent at Insurance For Texans. We work for you and not some big insurance company.