The beauty of spring is often tempered by powerful storms, with heavy rains, strong winds and destructive hail. Through it all, your home protects you from the elements, so be sure to check it for damage afterward.
Even if you have no reason to suspect that damage occurred, check your home and its surroundings (once it’s safe to do so, of course). It’s important to identify problems, make emergency repairs and determine if an insurance claim is necessary.
Here’s a handy list of things to check after a storm from the National Storm Damage Center:
Your roof might be the area of your home most vulnerable to damage in a storm, because so many things can impact it. Whether you’ve had high winds and downed tree branches or just a simple hailstorm, look for these indicators of damage:
While siding, stucco and brick all are durable, they also are susceptible to storm damage. In some instances, homeowners don’t notice until it’s too late to file a claim, so check carefully for:
Concrete can chip, crack and split, not only reducing the lifespan of your driveway or walkway, but potentially creating a safety issue.
Fallen trees and limbs cause more than $1 billion in damage each year, according to the National Storm Damage Center. Keep in mind that property owners generally are responsible for removing trees and limbs that have fallen on their property, even if it is a tree from a neighbor’s yard. Your insurance policy may help to cover the cost of removal and repairs, depending on the coverage you have and the circumstances of the incident. (There are exceptions to this, depending on the maintenance of the tree, so check with your insurance agent.)
It’s the time of year when the temperatures warm and the flowers bloom, putting us all in a chipper mood. But, it’s also time for thunderstorms, which most often occur in the spring and summer months, according to the National Severe Storms Laboratory.
With spring officially arriving this Friday, March 20, it’s the ideal time to review what your homeowners insurance, and even your car insurance, may or may not cover when it comes to damage from fallen trees.
Here are five important things to keep in mind:
1. Your homeowners insurance likely covers tree removal and damage repairs for your home and other insured structures, such as fences.
A tree falls on your property and damages one or more insured structures. What now? Your homeowners insurance will likely help with the cost of removing the tree and repairing the damage. That’s once you pay your deductible, of course. Examples of covered incidents can include strong winds knocking a tree over onto your roof or lightning striking a tree, causing it to fall on your fence.
However, if a tree falls due to neglect, you may not receive any coverage. So keep your trees in good shape, and ask your neighbors to do the same.
2. If there’s no damage, there’s likely no insurance coverage.
You may assume your homeowners insurance will cover the removal costs of any fallen tree, but that isn’t always the case. If a tree falls on your property without damaging any insured structures, you will likely need to cover the costs of tree removal yourself.
3. Your city or municipality may clean up trees that fall into the street, but you may still have reason to file an insurance claim.
Check with your city or municipality to determine who’s responsible for removing a tree that falls into the street. If your city takes responsibility, it may only be for the portion that’s in the street. Any of the felled tree that’s left on your property will be your responsibility. Your insurance may help if an insured structure was damaged in the incident.
4. You may have coverage even if a tree falls from your neighbor’s property.
When a fallen tree damages your property, your homeowners insurance may pitch in no matter who owned the tree. Depending on the circumstances, your insurance carrier may attempt to recoup some of the costs, including your deductible, from your neighbor’s insurance. This may occur, for example, if the neighbor was negligent in caring for the tree before it fell.
5. Your car insurance may cover damage to your vehicle from a fallen tree.
If a tree falls from your property onto your car, it’s your car insurance and not your homeowners insurance that will likely help cover the cost of repairs. But, the tree doesn’t have to be from your property. You likely have coverage if a tree falls on your car, no matter from where. What may not be covered? The cost to remove the tree from atop your car.
Of course, every insurance carrier handles fallen trees differently. It all depends on the specifics of your policy and your coverage limits, as well as the specifics of your situation. If you need to file an insurance claim for a fallen tree, use the tips below.
Tips for Filing an Insurance Claim for a Fallen Tree
Is it time for your annual insurance review?An annual insurance review helps ensure your policies are up to date with the coverage you need today. Contact your Carolina Insurance Alliance agent to discuss your recent life changes and update your policies as needed.
You probably know someone who has come home from vacation to find water all over the laundry room — and the rest of the house.
The cause? Most likely, the hose connecting the washing machine to the water supply.
That’s the reason for more than half of all washing-machine failures, according to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS).
The average cost of these failures? More than $5,000.
But that’s just one of several appliance hoses in your home that that you need to monitor regularly. Here are some quick tips to help keep your appliance hoses – and your overall home – in good shape:
Whenever Possible, Use Steel
Most washing machines, refrigerators and dishwashers come with rubber hoses that connect to your water supply, and they don’t always hold up over time. You should check them for blisters, cracks and loose connections, the IBHS says, and replace them every five years, even if they show no signs of damage. When you do replace them, use steel-braided hoses. They’re less likely to fail.
Of course, you don’t have to wait until an appliance hose shows wear and tear to replace it. You may want to replace the rubber hose that comes with a new washing machine with a steel-braided hose right away, for example.
Don’t Run Appliances When You’re Not Home
If a hose bursts, you want to be around to take immediate action. So don’t run the washer or dishwasher if you’re leaving the house soon. And, when you go on vacation, consider turning off your water, or at least the connection in the laundry room. Also lock the water and ice dispenser on the front of your fridge.
It’s Not All About Water
You should think about replacing the flexible ducting that most likely came with your dryer. Lint can easily build up in the creases and increase your risk of fire, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. A rigid or semi-rigid metal duct is better. Either way, though, clean out the ducting every year.
Don’t Forget the Grill
If you use a gas grill, it’s also important to check the hose and fittings between your fuel source and the burners. Brush everything with some soapy water and turn on the gas (without lighting the grill). Do you see any bubbles? It’s time to replace your hose and fittings.
Consider a Monitoring System
Although you’d still need to check and maintain your hoses, there are systems available that can automatically shut off your water when a leak is detected. Just remember, there’s no substitute for good maintenance.
Proper appliance maintenance can help you avoid home damage and maybe even home insurance claims. If a hose failure does occur, your homeowners insurance may help take care of the damage, depending on the circumstances, the specifics of your policy and other factors. If you need help understanding what your homeowners insurance covers, your local insurance agent is an excellent resource for help.
Spring is a time for rejuvenation, and, as the weather gets warmer and the days grow longer, there’s a positive energy in the air. For many people, it’s the perfect time to reorganize and refresh their home, while others eagerly get to work in the yard and garden.
While it’s easy to get caught up in spring cleaning and planting, this is also one of the most important times of the year for home maintenance.
Of course, you already know to set your clocks forward for daylight-saving time, which begins at 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 8 this year, and to change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. It’s a good idea to do a basic checkup in some other key areas, too. After all, winter can be rough on your home.
These tips, from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and others, can help. Call it “spring training” for homeowners.
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