Kenton Brine, President
Sandi Henke, Communications Director
NW Insurance Council
Phone: (206) 624-3330
Fax: (206) 624-1975
Follow at Twitter/nwinsuranceinfo
Spring windstorm forecast: time to check your coverage
What to do to get back on your feet
SEATTLE, April 6, 2017 – NW Insurance Council is reminding home and business owners that the National Weather Service in Seattle has issued a weather advisory for Western Washington (WA Coast and Puget Sound interior) and Coastal Oregon beginning Friday morning (April 7), predicting wind gusts to 60 miles per hour and sustained winds at 20-40 mph, plus potentially heavy rain.
Strong winds combined with heavy rain and already-saturated soil on the west side of the Cascades in Washington and Oregon have the potential to cause widespread damage to homes, vehicles and property. Before disaster strikes is the time to prepare, and one of the first steps is to review your insurance policies to know what is and isn’t covered.
Wind damage, including damage caused by downed trees and broken limbs, is typically covered under standard homeowners and business insurance policies, and vehicle owners who have optional Comprehensive coverage are also insured against damage caused by flying debris or fallen trees. If you have Renters insurance, damage to your personal possessions inside your home or vehicle is covered. Remember that coverage begins when damages exceed the deductible you have selected on your policies.
“Before the storm comes or the damage occurs, it’s a good idea to check with your agent or company to make sure your home, car or business are adequately insured,” said Kenton Brine, president of the NW Insurance Council. “It’s frustrating to deal with damage to your home or car from a windstorm, but without sufficient insurance, it can also be financially devastating.”
NW Insurance Council offers the following information to help you prepare and know what to do if you suffer wind damage to your property:
What’s typically covered under a standard Homeowners policy:
- Damage to your home from wind and falling trees. Your policy protects you regardless of whether the trees fall from your property or a neighbor’s property.
- Removal of trees that have fallen on buildings.
- Damaged personal property (both home and renters) inside a damaged building.
- Additional living expenses such as increased or temporary housing costs, extra food costs and furniture rental if you can’t occupy your primary residence due to storm damage.
- Costs for reasonable temporary repairs to prevent further damage to the building or contents.
- Spoiled food. Some policies provide up to $1,000 coverage for frozen and refrigerated food spoilage after 72 hours of continuous power interruption. Check your policy or contact your agent or company for coverage information.
Damage caused by wind and falling trees, IF you purchased optional Comprehensive coverage.
What’s typically not covered under a standard Homeowners policy:
- Removal of trees that have fallen in your yard without damaging a building.
- Upgrades that weren’t part of your home before the storm.
- Water damage caused by flooding from outside your home. (Flood Insurance is separate, and available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Flood Insurance Program – ask your agent or company for details.)
- Mudslides, landslides or other earth movement, regardless of cause. (That requires a separate “Difference In Conditions” policy – ask your agent or company for details.)
What to do if your home or vehicle has been damaged:
- Damage to your vehicle, if you don’t have Comprehensive coverage.
What to avoid if your home or vehicle has been damaged:
- If you have significant wind damage to your home, vehicle or business, acting quickly to file a claim will reduce the time it takes to get your claim settled.
- However, if damage is minor and repairs will cost less than your policy’s deductible (typically $500-$2,500), it may make more financial sense to pay for those repairs out-of-pocket. Review your policy or talk to your agent or company about your policy deductibles.
- Document damage and take pictures.
- If you’ve filed a claim for damage that doesn’t impact your ability to live in your home, consider getting multiple repair estimates before your adjuster arrives. This will help your adjuster settle your claim more quickly.
- Ask your insurer or agent about how to arrange for temporary repairs to prevent further damage from rain or wind. Save any receipts for reimbursement.
- Use only licensed, bonded and insured building contractors and be sure they get the proper building permits. To find out if a contractor is licensed and bonded in Washington, go to the Department of Labor & Industries website or protectmyhome.net.
- 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.
- Avoid contractors who ask for a large deposit up front or bids that are remarkably low. This may indicate a willingness to cut corners or leave work unfinished.
- Don’t pay a contractor in full for repairs until the job is complete.
Tools to help you prepare:
- Don’t pay a lot for temporary repairs unless authorized by your insurance adjuster. You could get stuck with the bill if the repairs are deemed excessive.
- Don’t discard anything that is damaged until it has been examined by your adjuster. You could miss out on coverage for that item.
- Visit GetReadyNW.org to learn about windstorm and disaster preparation resources including evacuation plans, disaster readiness kits and tips for filing claims.
- Develop a home inventory of your personal property. You can access free, downloadable Home Inventory software from the Insurance Information Institute.
- For business owners, the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety offers a disaster planning toolkit calledOpen for Business.
For more information, call (800) 664-4942 or visit www.nwinsurance.org.
NW Insurance Council is a nonprofit, public-education and public policy organization funded by member insurance companies serving Washington, Oregon and Idaho.