Preparing the Northwest

brought to you by NW Insurance Council

Windstorm

Severe winds can wreak havoc across an entire region and cause widespread damage to homes, vehicles and property.  In fact, a December 2006 massive windstorm swept through Western Washington and Oregon, causing 61,300 claims and more than $220 million in insured losses.

Windstorm and Homeowners Insurance Facts

  • Damage caused by wind is covered under standard homeowners and business owners insurance.  Renters Insurance does cover damage to personal belongings as a result of wind.  Water damage is also covered if it is the result of wind.
  • One-fourth of all businesses that close because of a disaster never reopen.
  • Before a windstorm strikes, homeowners and business owners should take the following measures to protect their property:
    • Review your insurance policy with your agent or company representative to ensure you have adequate insurance to cover losses from a windstorm, including business interruption insurance and property insurance.
    • Create an inventory of your home or business contents, including equipment essential to your business operations.  Having a detailed inventory will help your insurance adjuster assess the damage more quickly and get you back on your feet.  Take pictures, keep receipts, contracts and other important documents associated with your belongings or equipment.  Free, downloadable “Home Inventory Software” is available from the Insurance information Institute and can be accessed through NW Insurance Council at http://www.nwinsurance.org.
    • Thoroughly inspect your roof and replace it if necessary.  Warped shingles can curl and easily peel from your roof during a windstorm.
    • Cut down dead or diseased trees located near your home or business. 
    • Check the integrity of fence posts.  Older fences can easily be ripped apart in a windstorm if they’re not firmly posted in the ground.
    • Remove personal items from your yard such as trampolines, bicycles, signs and equipment.  These items can easily be whipped up and cause unnecessary damage during a severe windstorm.
  • Take advantage of the IBHS Open For Business toolkit.  This is a web-based, interactive property-protection and planning tool specifically designed for small and medium-sized businesses.  Open For Business can help you develop effective mitigation and recovery plans following a catastrophic loss: http://ibhs.org/business_protection.

 Filing A Claim

  • If you have damage to your home or business, don't wait to file a claim. Filing quickly will reduce the time it takes to get your claim settled.
  • If you've filed a claim for minor damage that doesn't impact your ability to live in your home, consider getting several repair estimates before your adjuster arrives. This will help your adjuster settle your claim more quickly.
  • If you have minor damage, please be patient. Adjusters are working to handle the most severely damaged properties first and will make it a priority to reach your property as soon as possible.

Damage from neighbor's trees

  • Damage to your home from wind and falling trees is covered under most insurance policies, regardless of whose property the tree fell from.
  • In cases where negligence can be proven, your neighbor's insurance may apply.
  • If your neighbor's tree poses a future risk to your property due to leaning, disease or root problems, claims experts recommend asking your neighbor to correct the problem. If the neighbor refuses to act, follow up with a certified letter stating your concerns. File a copy of the letter with your insurance records and provide it to your adjuster in the event of a future loss. This will help the adjuster investigate whether or not there was provable negligence on the neighbor's part.

Additional Living Expenses

  • If your home is unsafe to occupy due to physical damage from the windstorm, most policies provide for Additional Living Expenses that exceed your normal expenditures.
  • General power outages occurring off your insured property are excluded from coverage under most policies. While you may elect to seek other accommodations due to a power outage, cold weather alone does not qualify you for coverage under your insurance policy.

Frozen and Refrigerated Food Spoilage:

  • Many companies exclude coverage for spoiled food unless a power outage is caused by a loss on your property, such as a tree severing the power lines attached to your home.
  • Some companies provide up to $1,000 coverage for frozen and refrigerated food spoilage after 72 hours of continuous power interruption. Check your policy for coverage information.