After the devastation of a bad storm, it can make you feel like your life has flipped upside down. You may be thinking, where do I go from here? How will I ever recover from this? Read on for five tips on what to do following storm damage to your house.
1. Watch your surroundings after a storm
The aftermath of a storm can cause serious injuries if not careful. When trying to leave the area, look out for broken glass, exposed nails, or displaced screws. Avoid roofs that have caved in, standing water, and collapsed walls. If you smell gas, you should immediately shut off any gas valves to prevent further danger. Make sure those in your household are safe and unharmed.
2. Take pictures for your insurance claim
Taking pictures might be the last thing on your mind following a storm, but it can be helpful when filing an insurance claim. Here are some important things to document when inspecting your house:
· Roof lifting and lost shingles
· Broken windows and destroyed doors
· Damaged or broken appliances (including your air conditioner)
· Basement flooding
· Moisture damage
· Fire damage
Don’t forget your personal items, too. Keep a record of the belongings that are missing or damaged. This is where your personal property coverage would apply, up to the policy limit.
3. Contact your insurance agent and file a claim
Your agent is on your team and is there to walk beside you during times like this. Call them to let them know what’s going on and ask for the next steps. They can answer your questions about your homeowners policy.
You should file an insurance claim right away. Alfa customers can file claims online, through the Alfa2Go mobile app or by calling the Customer Resource Center at 1-800-964-2532.
Here are some additional tips for what to do after a storm:
• Stay informed. Listen to the radio or watch TV for updates on the storm.
• Be prepared for power outages. Have a flashlight and batteries on hand, and make sure your cell phone is fully charged.
• Check on your neighbors. If you have elderly or disabled neighbors, check on them to make sure they are safe.
• Stay safe. Avoid downed power lines and other hazards.
• Be patient. It may take some time for things to get back to normal after a storm.
4. Prevent further damage after a storm
If the damage from the storm is allowing wind and water to get into your home, you need to cover the area with plywood or a tarp. It’s your responsibility as a homeowner to prevent as much extra damage as you can. If your home is in poor condition, you may need to book a hotel room or stay with friends and family in the meantime.
5. Stay calm and stay organized
Emotions are high after a tragedy, and staying calm is easier said than done, but it’s important in times like this. Organize a folder to keep up with all receipts for materials and labor so that you can be reimbursed. If you end up paying for additional living expenses, such as lodging or meals out, while you’re displaced, keep up with those receipts, too. You may be reimbursed for part of those expenses under Loss of Use coverage on your homeowners policy, up to your policy limits.
At Alfa Insurance®, we care about your wellbeing, too. Below are some tips on how to cope after a disaster.
Emotional Damage of Disasters
Not all the damage from disasters is visible. Emotional trauma and stress are common in the aftermath and can appear weeks or months following a devastation event. Victims may experience at least one of several emotional responses: anger, fatigue, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, nightmares, depression, inability to concentrate, hyperactivity, or increased alcohol or drug use.
Talk about your feelings with family, friends, and neighbors. Sharing common experiences can help you overcome anxiety and feelings of helplessness.
Get back into daily routines as soon as you can. Try to keep a healthy diet, get plenty of sleep, and do some exercise every day.
Children are especially prone to emotional stress after a disaster, including fear of the dark, crying, fear of being alone, and constant worry. Reassure children they are safe. Encourage them to talk about their fears and hold and hug them frequently.
It’s always a good idea to be as prepared as possible before tragedy strikes. Talk with your agent to review your policy and complete our handy storm preparation checklist to be sure you’re as prepared as possible. Alfa® can provide you with homeowners insurance that covers windstorm damage from a hurricane. We also offer affordable flood insurance for additional protection when devastation strikes. Contact your local Alfa agent today to learn more.