Storms and Your HOA

By Spectrum Management

disaster

You were just hit by a big storm, you know there is damage and are grateful everyone is safe; and that you have insurance. But, did you know that you as a homeowner are responsible to prevent additional damage and if you don’t mitigate then it could get very expensive?

Failure to mitigate post-storm damages can have detrimental consequences for homeowners. An example from a recent hail storm tells the tale. During the storm, a homeowner’s roof sustained what appeared to be minor damage. Because the damage did not cause immediate or noticeable leakage and caused only a few roof tiles to break loose, the homeowner delayed reporting any claim to their insurer. Weeks go by, a heavy storm occurs, and the homeowner now notices a leak in the roof. This leak caused flood damage that may not be covered by insurance. This problem could have been avoided had the homeowner enlisted their insurance professional and began mitigating damages as quickly as possible after the original loss occurred. In many cases, damages that result from failure to report a loss at the time of occurrence or failure to prevent future damages may not be covered, leaving the policyholder responsible for damages.

Here are some important steps to take for moving forward when a storm damages your property:

  1. Inspect for Damages
    1. Take pictures to document the loss. This is important because the burden is on you as the insured to PROVE a loss occurred. If your insurance company has any questions, they will send out an adjuster (see below).
    2. Your Association’s insurance (or your personal carrier) will likely cover hail-damage losses. And if the hail penetrated the roof or broke out windows, any water damage from driven rain will likely be covered as well; however, …
    3. You and your Association have a duty to protect your property from future damages. This means that if the hail broke your windows and rain comes in anytime after the storm, your insurance will likely NOT cover that water damage because the idea is you should have protected your property.
  1. Make Emergency Repairs
    1. Follow up on the above if you have damages that pose additional risk (your windows are busted out/all of the shingles blew off your roof, your exterior drains are covered with debris, etc., because you need to make immediate repairs to prevent further loss.
    2. Your insurance will reimburse the costs for putting a tarp on your roof, plywood to board up your windows, etc.
  1. Get Estimates for Fixing the Property
    1. Hail is not an everyday occurrence in San Antonio, and insurance carriers are now swamped with many more claims than usual. If you have an insurance adjuster come out to your property, here’s an idea of the timeline involved:
      • File the claim + 1 Day
      • Insurance carrier responds and assigns adjuster + 2 Days
      • Insurance adjuster hires an independent contractor to create a report/estimate + 2 Days
      • Independent contractor takes pictures of damages/creates report for adjuster + 14 Days normally, + 21 Days if they are backlogged
      • Adjuster reviews independent contractor’s report + 7 Days normally, + 14 Days if they are backlogged
      • Check issued + 7 to 14 Days
      • TOTAL TIME: Best Case: 33 Days from claim to payment (1 Month)/if backlogged: 44 Days (1 1/2 Months)
    2. BUT if you get pictures and estimates, the insurance carrier MAY rather pay you a little more than normal to save on the cost of hiring a contractor, and it’s a much faster timeline:
      • Inspect property and take pictures + 1 Day
      • Receive estimates from contractor +1 to 7 Days
      • Insurance carrier files your claim with estimates and documentation + 0 Days
      • Insurance carrier responds and assigns adjuster + 2 Days
      • Adjuster sees that they already have everything they need in their file (pictures, estimates) to decide claim + 0 days
      • Check issued + 7 to 14 Days
      • TOTAL TIME: As soon as 11 Days to get a check in hand, depending on how long your contractor takes

 

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