When a natural disaster occurs, it can cause catastrophic damage. Storm damage from hurricanes, hail, tornadoes and other weather-related perils can destroy your home and possessions and leave you with chaos. Every year, Texas endures at least one serious natural disaster and ranks first in the U.S. for the frequency and variety of disasters.
Events such as hurricanes, hail storms, tornados, flooding, and wildfires occur throughout the year. Tornado Alley reaches into the heart of Texas, which experiences a high frequency of tornadoes each year, often in the late spring and early fall. Also in the spring and fall, hurricanes like Harvey in 2017 often cause severe damage. Extreme summer temperatures can cause droughts and wildfires, while intense rainfall often floods large areas of the state. Even a severe thunderstorm with hail and high winds can damage buildings and uproot trees.
Dealing with the aftermath of a storm can be frustrating and discouraging, especially if your insurance company is uncooperative. If your home or property has sustained storm damage and you need help dealing with the insurance company, you should speak with an experienced San Antonio storm damage lawyer about your rights and legal options.
What You Need to Know About Dealing With Insurance Companies
Perhaps a bad storm has damaged your home. Luckily, you have insurance for situations like this. But unfortunately, these catastrophes also affect an insurance company’s bottom line, leading to underpayment, delays in compensation, and denial of claims. Insurance policies are often confusing, and many homeowners don’t fully understand all of the fine print until they try to file a claim.
When there is a natural disaster, such as a hurricane or tornado, hundreds of homeowners file claims at once. Insurance adjusters are spread thin, handling multiple claims at a time. As a result, they may overlook important details, which can negatively affect your claim. Also, insurance companies are for-profit operations, and adjusters and investigators are generally more concerned with protecting their employer than insurance claimants, leading them to sometimes improperly undervalue or deny claims.
What to Do if Your Home Was Damaged by a Storm
In the initial shock following a catastrophe you may not know what to do. Naturally, your health and the health of your loved ones are the priorities. Therefore, you should first obtain medical care and shelter, if needed. Do not return home until it is safe to do so. Once it is safe, the following tips may help you with pursuing the compensation you deserve:
- Notify your insurer. Even though you are probably upset, do your best to remain calm and stick to the facts. Remember that your statements may be used against you later.
- Take pictures. Photos, videos, and notes about the damage can be valuable evidence. Take plenty of pictures, from a variety of angles. The insurance company may contend that the damage was not caused by the storm.
- Keep copies of letters, emails, or other documentation. Again, the period following a natural disaster can be stressful and confusing for everyone concerned. You don’t want to find yourself arguing about what was said. It is far better to keep records of any interactions with the insurance company.
- Save records of emergency work or repairs. Sometimes emergency repairs can’t wait, but you should keep detailed records of any repairs, as well as any estimates you collect. These records will be an important part of your claim.
- Avoid talking about the damage on social media. It is tempting to talk and post pictures on social media about the damage to your property. However, items posted on social media may be considered public knowledge. In the excitement, you may have made statements that were inaccurate, incomplete, or subject to misinterpretation, and these statements are available to adjusters and others who may use them against you.
- Consult a personal injury attorney. Storm damage can be overwhelming. Everyone you know will want to offer advice on how to proceed. An attorney can review your insurance policies, explain your options, and work to obtain fair compensation.
Types of Storm Damage
Storms often cause significant property damage, including:
- Roof damage. Storms damage shingles, tiles, and sometimes rip off the entire roof, exposing the home to wind and water.
- Lightning. If you know lightning hit your house, call the fire department. Lightning can do all kinds of damage to your electrical wiring. In addition, it can cause a fire, and structural or other types of property damage.
- Hail damage. Strong storms often bring hail. Hail pellets are usually between 0.2 inches and 1.75 inches in diameter, but can be even bigger. Hail usually lands with considerable force and often dents vehicles. It can also break windows and cause other damage to your home or other structures. After a hail storm, look closely at your property. Sometimes hail damage is not readily visible. Signs of hail damage may include cracked or dented shingles, holes in your siding, and bent roof vents. In some cases, hail damages the materials beneath the shingles. If you suspect hail damage, you should consider getting a professional to examine your property. Hail damage can cause roof leaks and other structural issues.
- Wind damage. Tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, and other serious storms are truly frightening. Winds exceeding 50-60 mph are considered severe. High winds, water, and airborne objects are a danger to you and your property. Take shelter and watch out for falling or uprooted trees, as well as damaged power lines.
- Water damage. Flash floods and rapid torrential downpours are common in many parts of Texas. The water can rise incredibly fast and flood your home.
How Our Storm Damage Attorneys Can Help With Your Claim
Relying on your insurance company to protect your interests and properly compensate you for your losses may prove challenging. Storm damage claims are complex, and insurance companies may try to limit or deny your coverage. An attorney can help you build a strong claim, make sure your voice is heard, and work to obtain the compensation you deserve.
If your property has suffered storm damage, speak with our experienced storm damage lawyers about your claim. Contact the Law Offices of George Salinas at (210) 225-0909, or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.