I recently listed a home in Woodbridge that sustained damage to the roof during tornado-strength winds. Fortunately the home was vacant, no one was hurt and we had insurance professionals at the ready. This isn’t uncommon in the Northern Virginia area and I’ve had plenty of experience specifically with hail storms and rain water intrusion – especially when homes are listed for sale. Question most people ask: What do I do now?
I reached out to Michael Blakeley, State Farm agent based out of Reston and representing clients in the Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC area. Here’s what he had to offer for homeowners in a similar situation:
It is important that before you begin to assess the damage you make sure the area is secure and in our instance make sure you are not in any path of further danger when it comes to the weather. Once you have establish that, it is important to then begin to assess the costs of the damage to your home and property before filing a home insurance claim. If you have your insurance documents now would be a good time to look and see what your current deductible is or if you do not have them you can obtain that information by calling your agent directly. Filing a claim could possibly result in an increase in rate even if the claim is small so self-insuring on smaller items might be more economical in the end. If you do not have significant damage to your home, get a repair estimate and see what the damages are. Always keep in mind that you will have to pay your deductible before the insurance company pays a claim, so you would not necessarily be losing money for the small repairs.
If the damages to your home or property are extensive and severe, contact your insurance agent immediately to begin the claim process. The following are good steps to have to help throughout the process:
- If someone is injured report it immediately to the emergency line and contact your insurance company as well with names/addresses/witnesses.
- Don’t make voluntary payments, obligations, or expenses outside of emergency first aid.
- Take pictures of the damages as soon as possible and be as thorough as possible.
- Take reasonable steps to prevent potential safety risks and further damage.
After you assess the initial damages and determine that filing a claim is the best action, contact your agent to begin the process.
Now would be a good time to sit down and review your current insurance coverages with your agent and determine if you do have enough and/or the right coverages not only on your home but also your vehicles. One of the best steps that you can make sure you do is an evaluation of your home property with a detailed inventory of all of your personal belonging.
What to Expect Next
- After you’ve reported your claim, a claim representative will contact you.
- Generally, claim representatives visit the most severely damaged homes first.
- The initial visit may be for inspection purposes only (Always a good idea to be present).
- If you can’t live in your house, an advance payment may be available to help you with additional living expenses; that advance payment is available from your agent or from representatives at our claim offices.
- Save receipts for your additional living expenses for your claim representative.
- Your claim representative will estimate damage to your house—sometimes it’s necessary to have a contractor or engineer also inspect the damage; feel free to obtain your own contractor’s estimate.
- It is wise to avoid using contractors you know nothing about. Select contractors experienced in repair work, not just new construction.
- After the damage to your home has been established, our initial payment will be for the actual cash value of your damaged building.
- Once repairs are completed, you may be entitled to additional payments if your policy has replacement cost provisions; (loss settlement procedures may be different in your state).
- Some repair costs may not be covered unless you have purchased a specific endorsement.
- Actual cash value of your personal property will be paid as soon as it is established. Some policies allow for additional payments when items are replaced (your policy and state law govern timing and amounts).
If You Have a Home Mortgage
- When we pay you for damages to your home, your insurance company is required to protect the interest of the company that provides your mortgage, up to the amount of the mortgage balance.
- If there’s a mortgage on your house, your claim payment will include the name of the mortgage company.
- If your home is damaged, contact your mortgage company about the damage as soon as possible after you’ve reported your claim.
- Be sure to ask about the mortgage company’s procedure for endorsing your claim payment (procedures vary).
Don’t forget your car even if something happened to your home! If you carry Comprehensive Coverage on your Car Policy then, subject to any deductible you may have selected, damage resulting from wind, hail, flood or earthquake will generally be covered.
For more information on filing a claim, visit: StateFarm.com
For any insurance needs you can contact Agent:
Michael Blakeley State Farm Agency
12310 Pinecrest Road Ste. 303 Reston, VA 20191
Providing Insurance and Financial Services to Virginia, Maryland, & Washington, DC
Available to help YOU 24/7, Call us today!
This is only a general description of coverages and is not a statement of contract. Details of coverage or limits vary in some states. All coverages are subject to the terms, provisions, exclusions and conditions in the policy itself and in any endorsements. Please refer to your own insurance contract for how your claim process will be handled and insurance will be provided.