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Why your insurance may not cover storm damage

Posted at 9:26 AM, Apr 24, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-24 09:26:36-04

Betty Penrod surveyed the damage to her home, after an intense spring storm.  A neighbor's driveway looked like Niagara Falls, while the Penrod's yard was covered in hailstones.

"I mean it's just unreal, the hail," she said.

The storm left its biggest mark, however, on the roof. "We'll need a new roof again," Penrod said.

Luckily, her insurance company should pay.  But in some storm damage cases, it may not.

About a mile away, Joe McGinty was cleaning up his auto detailing shop, which was swamped with six inches of water that poured in through a garage door crack after the same recent storm.

He suspected he might call his insurance agent, depending on how much was damaged in his shop. But he worries his insurer might not cover anything.

Which brings us to a caution before calling your insurance agent after a storm: State insurance departments warn that most homeowner policies will not cover storm flooding. You need an add-on flood "rider" or Federal Flood Insurance for that.

Calling and filing a claim for rain flooding may get you nowhere and may cost you more in the long run, as it could put your home in the high risk category for flooding.

Here's the good news:

  • Insurance will cover roof wind damage.
  • It will cover wind or hail damage to siding.
  • It will cover the damage if a tree falls on your home or car.

But it won't cover the cleanup of a tree that falls your yard.

Finally, if the damage is minor, and may cost just a few hundred dollars to correct, you may want to pay out of pocket, to avoid a possible rate hike later.

That way you don't waste your money.