After Hurricane Michael: What Florida Homeowners Need to Know
The Atlantic hurricane season may only run from June 1 to Nov. 30, but the devastation it brings can last much longer. Hurricanes are a powerful force of nature that twist water and excessive wind speeds together into one destructive cyclone.
Living through a severe hurricane is a feat in and of itself; but the real work begins when the winds and waters have receded, and it’s time to rebuild. Looking at the damage can be intimidating, to say the least; and your roof (or what’s left of it) will need immediate attention. This is the first line of defense when it comes to offsetting water damage, and it’s essential that you start repairs as quickly as possible.
Damage and devastation can seem insurmountable
According to a report by Fortune Magazine, the destruction caused by Hurricane Michael may exceed $4.5 billion. That number is only a rough estimate, and reflects the horrendous damage inflicted by the Category 4 storm along the Florida panhandle and up the eastern seaboard.
Florida insurance providers are predicting at least 500,000 claims in their state alone, and this doesn’t even begin to take additional areas into consideration. On a personal level, many people are still dealing with the shock and devastation that come with seeing their homes damaged by 120+ mph winds, storm surges, and torrential rainfall.
Standing in front of a storm-ravaged home leaves many asking themselves, “What’s next?”
Navigating your insurance claim
The first step will involve placing a phone call to your homeowner’s insurance carrier. After the storm passes, there’s a good chance that a large number of people will also be phoning in; so make that call as quickly as you can when it’s safe to assess the damage. The sooner you can contact your insurance agent, the sooner he or she can begin to process your claim.
When your roof is damaged and must be repaired or replaced, it becomes your first priority. Having that barrier protects the rest of your home from ongoing water damage and other issues caused by tropical humidity. It’s hard to avoid mold growth when it keeps raining in your dining room!
As much as it might be tempting to make some of the repairs yourself, this may not be the best idea. Slow down, and take the following steps before jumping into DIY action:
First and foremost-protect yourself!
A major hurricane like Michael can do catastrophic damage to your home. If any part of the home is structurally unsound, don’t attempt to enter it. If at all possible, try to turn off the electricity to the home so that authorities can properly inspect it with less risk. Safety is always the most important factor when trying to recover from any type of natural disaster. Don’t put yourself in any unnecessary danger. When in doubt, call the local authorities and sit tight.
Talk to your insurance agent about the claims process
If you need to get an estimate or an expert evaluation prior to filing your insurance claim, you don’t want to make your own permanent repairs. This can have an impact on your coverage and the amount that you’ll receive for the damage. Ask your insurance agent what you can do to temporarily offset ongoing water damage without sabotaging your inspection. The insurance company doesn’t want to pay more than they have to, but they also don’t want to sort out your attempt at being a roofer, either.
Contact a licensed and reputable roofing company
There’s no such thing as “eyeballing it” when you’re getting estimates for your insurance agency. It is important to quickly contact a licensed roofing agency with a good reputation (like the contractors vetted by Roofr. Not only will you secure their services, you also gain a little more control over the process. No one wants to be forced to hire a roofing company with whom they are not comfortable just because they’re in a hurry.
Have everything ready for your claims adjuster
When it’s time for your claims adjuster to visit your property, make it as accessible as possible for them. List any damage, and keep a running total of lost or damaged items as well. Provide any information on recent repairs and upgrades that may still be under warranty by other companies. This can offset the cost, and help to move the process along.
Understanding your policy is key
When you speak to your insurance provider, there are a number of important questions to ask that will help you to better understand your options:
- Exactly what repairs are covered under my policy?
- What else is covered?
- Will this policy completely replace my roof if necessary?
- What are my replacement options?
- How long before the claims are paid?
These questions are only some of many that you’ll need to ask; but they can help to point you in the right direction. When you’re going through something as monumental as hurricane recovery, it’s important to try and keep yourself grounded and moving towards putting your home (and life) back together.
Protecting yourself against future hurricane damage
Floridians are tough, and many understand that “battening down the hatches” is a part of life when living in hurricane territory! Here are some things you can do to start protecting your home’s roof against future violent weather.
Look for weak spots when you know a storm is coming
Ideally, you’ll have some warning before a hurricane hits. This should give you time to check out your roof, and to make any small repairs necessary to keep it intact and prevent water from getting in.
Use hardware to reinforce the area
Some people swear by tarps held in place using roof straps, while others call their local roofing contractors to install hurricane clips. These are metal brackets installed inside and outside the home that work to secure the roof. You can also invest in storm shutters. No matter what kind of adverse weather you’re facing, there are measures you can take to minimize damage and to keep your home intact.
Have the right kind of insurance
Of course, this is all for naught if you don’t have a good home insurance policy. Remember that different policies will cover different cases, so it’s a good idea to ensure that flood insurance is part of your policy. As we mentioned above, understand your policy as well as you can, and how to file claims if needed.
Call in the professionals for more information
At Roofr, we’ve spent years responding to and studying the effects of hurricane damage. Whether you need help preparing for a storm, or help cleaning up after one, we’re only a phone call away.
Do you have questions about preparing for hurricane season or need help with general roofing repairs or replacement? Call us at 1-866-386-2641 today and we will connect you with a licensed roofing contractor in your area with expertise in storm restoration.
Do you have stories of survival, hope, or otherwise with Hurricane Michael (or any others)? Please share in the comment section below.