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Karl Newman, President
Sandi Henke, Communications Director     
NW Insurance Council
Phone: (800) 664-4942
Fax: (206) 624-1975
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Windstorm: what to do in the aftermath

SEATTLE - As with many disasters, windstorms can wreak havoc across a region, severely damaging homes, businesses and vehicles.

Fortunately, wind damage is covered under standard homeowners and business owners insurance policies. Vehicle owners with optional Comprehensive Coverage in their Auto Insurance are also insured.

"Insurance companies really show their value to customers following a catastrophe like a windstorm," said Karl Newman, NW Insurance Council president. "It's frustrating to deal with a windstorm loss, but it would be financially devastating to many if they hadn't insured their homes and businesses."

The Hanukkah Eve Windstorm that struck Western Washington and Oregon in December 2006 caused nearly $220 million in damage and more than 61,300 insurance claims.

Knowing what to do immediately following a windstorm can help you more quickly get back on your feet. NW Insurance Council offers the following key points and recommendations for homeowners and business owners who experience wind damage:

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 $1000 coverage for frozen and refrigerated food spoilage after 72 hours of continuous power interruption. Check your policy for coverage information.

For more information, call (800) 664-4942 or visit For information on how to prepare your home, business and family for a natural disaster, visit

NW Insurance Council is a nonprofit, public-education organization funded by member insurance companies serving Washington, Oregon and Idaho.