When winter storms cause damage in your home, quick action is critical to protect your property. You should immediately start the assessment and rehabilitation process to minimize further impact. Knowing what to do and planning ahead would be extremely helpful in making the recovery process run smoothly and without unnecessary delays.
Here are 7 steps to guide every property owner in dealing with winter storm damage.
1. Stay Calm
We deliberately placed this step at the top of everything else, because seeing the damage of winter flooding can really make someone panic and lose all hope. Start with the thought that you can still recover from the storm, no matter how damaged your property looks to be.
Having a calm disposition allows you to make sound decisions, and avoid rash ones, which is critical in a time like this.
2. Turn off Power and Water Connection
Before touching anything else, turn the power supply off to avoid a fire or any risk of electrocution. Make sure you are familiar with your breakers, or you may call your utility supplier for assistance. Switch the power back on only when the floods have completely subsided and a licensed contractor has inspected the property for safety.
Make sure to check your pipes as well, because the winter storm may have caused some of them to leak or burst. Damaged pipes with water still running may worsen the flooding in your property. If this is the case, you need to call a plumber. You may turn your water on again if you have assessed and confirmed that there are no burst pipes. Allow it to drip or flow slowly to help thaw out the pipes.
3. Move To a Safe Place, If Needed
If your home or business was severely damaged by a storm, safety is a top priority. If needed, move to a temporary shelter where you and your family can be safe. Make a log of all your extra expenses and keep your receipts, for when you can begin filing for reimbursement with your insurance.
When you move out of your home due to covered loss, expenses for a hotel room and food may be covered by your insurance. Check this with your insurance company to be sure. Extra expenses incurred after leaving your home due to other reasons – such as lack of power or water, but without significant damage to your home – may not be covered.
4. Document The Condition of Your Property After The Winter Storm
If you are able to, try to document the damage in your property by making detailed notes and taking photos and videos of all damaged areas and items. These will be important when coordinating with your insurance company, with a restoration service company, or with vendors for products under warranty.
Try to include details such as brand, model, specifications, or serial numbers in your photos, but only if it is safe to do so. If gaining access is difficult or potentially harmful, leave things as they are and wait for your insurance adjuster or a restoration service professional to conduct the detailed assessment.
5. Contact Your Insurance Company and File a Claim Promptly
Whether it’s residential flooding or commercial storm damage, make sure to call your insurance agent as soon as possible to report about your situation and to file your claim. Clearly state that the call is your initial notice of claim.
You may be instructed to complete forms, but don’t be anxious about it! Ask for clear instructions on what to do next to file your claim. You may probably need to provide documents, photos, or videos to support it. Wait for the insurance representative to conduct their own inspection before moving anything, except those that need to be moved for safety purposes.
Keep a note of your transaction with everyone you talked to at your insurance company. Some of the information that may come in handy include the following:
- Insurance staff or personnel you talked to and their position in the company
- Phone numbers that you were able to contact
- Date and time of transaction
- Initial agreements, if any
- Other critical highlights of the discussion.
In cases of delays or confusion, you may refer to your notes for the details.
6. Contact a Trusted Restoration Service in Your Area
Timely action is essential to help protect your property from major winter storm damage. A difference in days or hours may dictate if you would require restoration services or full replacements of damaged items.
Experts and professionals in the field can help you start the restoration process immediately. If you’re local to us, please reach out and we can assist you right away.
If not, please make sure that you’re talking to someone who can do the following:
- Perform a comprehensive inspection and assessment of the damage in your property
- Remove unstable structures
- Dry and treat damaged areas
- Assist with insurance claims
There are times when insurance claim settlement offers do not match the restoration cost estimates. Discuss carefully the discrepancy and its possible reasons with your insurance adjuster and your restoration service provider. You may also invite both to a meeting to talk about the extent of the damage to your property and the necessary steps that need to be accomplished.
7. Apply for Federal Assistance for Uninsured Losses
If your residence is not insured or if the insurance does not cover all your damage, you may apply for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Note that FEMA’s program does not pay for all losses from a winter storm. It does not serve as a replacement or substitute for insurance. It is still important that you get insurance to protect your residences.
When applying for federal assistance, prepare information such as:
- Your current phone number
- Your address for which you are filing for assistance
- Your current address if you’re staying somewhere else after the storm
- Your Social Security number
- List of damage and losses
- Insurance policy details if applicable
Reeling From A Winter Storm? We’ve Got You Covered!
Being in the business of restoring physical structures from a wide variety of disasters, we at Compleat Restorations understand how difficult it is for you to lose your assets and properties after a winter storm.
Contact us today, so that you can get back to your feet in no time. We can guarantee the quality of our services, not only through decades of expertise but also by our sense of urgency and care for our customers.