Winds can toss lawn furniture, splinter branches, and sometimes even topple decades-old trees to the ground. It’s no surprise that they can also damage the exterior of your home—peeling shingles from roofs, ripping up siding, even shattering windows.
If harsh winds have damaged your roof or other external elements of your home, you’re probably wondering if your home insurance will be there to help you out.
The answer (as with most things involving insurance) is a little more complicated than a simple “yes” or “no.” Fortunately, we’ve put together this short walkthrough to help you understand how to deal with your insurance company and start putting your home back together in the aftermath of a storm—and whether you’ll need a wind damage attorney to help you through the insurance claim process.
Yes, Most Homeowner’s Insurance Covers Wind Damage—Most of the Time
Good news! Most homeowners’ policies do cover wind damage. This includes not only hurricane or tornado damage, but wind damage caused by any strong storm or other source (thunderstorms, hailstorms, etc.).
Believe it or not, wind damage is by far the most common homeowners insurance claim as a whole. More than one in 20 homes file weather-related claims every year, and one in 35 homes claim damage due to wind and hail. Wind damage claims made up a whopping 45.5% of all homeowner’s insurance claims in 2020—that’s more than flood damage, theft, or even fire damage.
Let’s take a look at some specific types of storm damage that most insurance companies would (or at least should) typically cover:
Your roof is particularly vulnerable to high winds. Shingles can be dislodged or blown off entirely, especially if they are loose or located near the edge or corner of the roof—areas that are subjected to higher stress during a storm.
Furthermore, damage from a falling tree, branches, or other objects carried or toppled by strong winds should be classified as wind damage by your insurance carrier.
Do note that your homeowners policy may have some limitations in place that could affect how much you receive to repair or replace your damaged roof. If you have an older roof, you may only be able to recover the depreciated value. And if your roof was improperly installed, the insurance company may deny coverage entirely.
RELATED POST: Recoverable Depreciation & Roofing
Siding is vital to the structural integrity of your home. Not only does it establish a pleasing aesthetic, but it also protects the more vulnerable wood that makes up its interior structure. Whether vinyl or metal, your policy should cover siding if it was damaged during a storm.
Note, however, that varieties of siding go in and out of production extremely quickly. If your siding is more than a few years old, you may not be able to find an exact match in stock. In this case, you’ll work with your insurance company to find a reasonable new option.
Doors & Windows
As the primary gateway to the home, doors and windows are especially vulnerable during a storm. Any damage will need to be replaced quickly (though in the meantime you can secure these points of access with a tarp). Because of this, most homeowner’s policies do include them in their wind coverage.
Fences, Garages & Other Structures
Damaged or destroyed fences are most often included in either the “detached structures” or “other” portions of your homeowner’s policy, along with other structures that aren’t part of the main structure of your home (like detached garages or sheds). This means they’re typically covered by your policy against all of the same conditions as your home.
However, many policies include exceptions for wood fences so that they are only covered for cash value — thus depreciation could be applied.
Furthermore, your home insurance policy may have a much lower coverage limit for other structures—perhaps as low as 10% of your dwelling coverage. While this usually isn’t a problem for something like a fence or simple shed, it may not be enough to fully cover an expensive detached garage.
RELATED POST: Is My Garage Covered Under Homeowners Insurance?
The Caveats: Limitations to Your Wind Damage Coverage
As we’ve covered, it’s standard practice for homeowner’s insurance policies to cover wind damage to your roof, siding, fences, and more—but there are often stipulations that can affect the type and range of coverage you receive, and homeowners insurance companies will often fight claims aggressively—even legitimate ones.
On average, wind and hail damage is the third-most-expensive type of home insurance claims, with the average single claim costing around $11,690. Because of that, insurance companies—motivated by profit over the well-being of their clients—often attempt to lower the ultimate payout. Hiring a wind damage attorney can vastly improve your odds of attaining the best possible payout.
Know Your Homeowner’s Insurance Policy
Every insurance provider is unique, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of your policy before you file a claim. If you don’t have a physical copy, most insurers offer one online (you may have to log into an account to view your particular policy).
Here are a few of the items you should inspect before filing your claim:
- Coverage limits
- Cash value or replacement cost value
Keep in mind that every property you insure is unique as well, and there are other factors that could impact the size of your claim. These include:
- Unsolved maintenance problems/pre-existing damage
- The age of your roof, fence, or siding
Common Reasons Homeowner’s Insurance Companies Deny Wind Damage Claims
Once you’ve filed your claim, you can expect your insurance provider to evaluate it and the associated damage in order to determine the appropriate reimbursement.
You may have already guessed, based on the recurring themes throughout this article, that what your insurance company determines is an appropriate amount and what is actually an appropriate amount may not be the same.
Insurance companies are for-profit businesses—at the end of the day, they care more about paying you the absolute minimum they can get away with than making sure you’re back on your feet. They will take advantage of any technicality in order to lower the value of your claim, which is why a property casualty lawyer is a valuable asset. A legal professional can help ensure you get the money you need, both by negotiating with your insurance company and assuring you don’t accidentally give the insurance company any unfair advantages.
Some of the most common reasons insurance companies decrease or negate compensation include:
- Missed deadlines in the claim reporting or filing process
- Insufficient evidence linking damage to the recent weather event
- Claiming that the damage existed before the recent weather event
- Homeowner negligence prior to the weather event leading to increased vulnerability
- Homeowner failing to protect the home from further damage after the initial wind damage
How to File a Claim (And Increase Your Chances of Approval)
In the wake of severe windy weather, your first step is to inspect the impacted area.
Please, make sure to be careful! Storms often result in dangerous debris such as broken glass and downed power lines. Ensure the area is safe and stay off the roof when inspecting for damage. Instead, view the rooftop from a distance using binoculars if necessary.
Once you’ve spotted the damage, it’s time to document it. You can use your cell phone to take photos and short videos. Make sure to note the date and time the damage occurs. In addition, make written descriptions of the damage as well.
Afterwards, it may be necessary to make temporary repairs to keep the elements out of your home, such as securing tarps over broken windows. This is what’s known as “duty to mitigate,” or in other words preventing further damage to your home. (If you fail to mitigate, the insurance company may not pay for any damage that occurs beyond the initial event.)
You may also want to consider securing valuables in storage with friends.
To ensure you have the best chance of approval, consider hiring a storm damage lawyer to assist in you in documenting damage and building your case.
Insurance Claim HQ Helps You Negotiate a Fair Settlement
Don’t let the insurance company take advantage of you! Your home is your most important asset and the place where you find comfort, shelter, and safety. Walking away with less than you deserve after severe wind damage can be emotionally and financially devastating, and the insurance company doesn’t have your best interests at heart.
No matter what stage you’re in in the insurance claims process, it’s always wise to seek a free consultation from an attorney who can help you get the most from your insurance company and avoid unfair denials. Insurance Claim HQ works on your behalf to negotiate the settlement you’re entitled to, and can help you avoid mistakes that jeopardize your claim.
You don’t have to recover your footing alone. We have your back. Contact Insurance Claims HQ for a free consultation today.
Facts + Statistics: Homeowners and renters insurance. Insurance Information Institute. Retrieved from https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-homeowners-and-renters-insurance
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.