Will Insurance Protect You from Storm Damage?

AMES, Iowa -- A tree fell on the roof, strong winds blew out the car windows, the sewer backed up into the basement. Storm damage comes in many forms. Will insurance cover the damage?

It depends on what caused the damage and it depends on the insurance. For example, a homeowner’s policy may cover the damage from a tree falling on the roof, but it doesn’t cover damage from a flood. Homeowners need to have a separate flood insurance policy to guard against that risk.

Timothy Griesdorn“Ideally, you should review your insurance coverage every year when you renew your policies to make sure your coverage meets your needs. But sometimes it takes storm damage to get people to take action,” said Timothy Griesdorn, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach specialist in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies.

“If you have weather-related property damage, contact your insurance agent or company as soon as possible to report the claim,” Griesdorn said. “Ask what information your agent or company will need.”

The Iowa Insurance Division offers the following recommendations.

  • When contacting the insurance agent or company, take good notes. Keep track of the representative’s name, and the date and time of the call.
  • Document losses. Take photographs of the damaged property.
  • Make temporary repairs to protect the property from further damage, but don’t make permanent repairs until after talking to the insurance company’s adjuster. The company may require a visual inspection before it will process the claim.
  • If the claim is denied and the denial seems improper, first review the policy. Then, appeal to the insurance agent or the company’s claim manager. For information about further action, contact the Iowa Insurance Division, 877-955-1212.

“It’s a good idea to plan for future claims. You never know when the next storm will cause damage,” Griesdorn said.

Griesdorn suggested that home owners and renters inventory their personal property and store the information in a safe place, such as a safe deposit box at a financial institution, but not at the insured property. To make the inventory and other record keeping easier, order a copy of “Getting Organized: Personal and Financial Records” (PM 1121), for $2.00 from the ISU Extension Online Store, https://store.extension.iastate.edu/.