storm damage law

September 14, 2023

Storm Damage Law

Table of Contents

In the wake of a storm, homeowners are often faced with a multitude of challenges. From assessing the extent of the damage to understanding the intricacies of filing an insurance claim, the aftermath can be both overwhelming and confusing. While storms are natural phenomena, the damages they cause can have serious legal and financial implications. Therefore, this article seeks to shed light on some of the pressing questions homeowners often have in the aftermath of a storm. We aim to provide clarity on storm damage law and the pivotal role that insurance companies play in navigating these tumultuous times.

What Counts as Storm Damage?

Storms come in various forms, and so does the damage they inflict. From the subtle damages that aren’t immediately visible to the clear and overt destruction, understanding what legally counts as storm damage is paramount for homeowners seeking to make a claim. From a legal vantage point, storm damage refers to any damage caused directly or indirectly by weather events. This encompasses not only the immediate physical damage from rain, wind, or hail but also subsequent issues, such as mold growth due to water intrusion. Here are the different types of storm damages:

  • Structural Damages: These are often the most evident. Strong winds, flying debris, or fallen trees can cause cracks in walls, damage to roofs, and even foundational issues.
  • Water Damage: Prolonged rain or flooding can lead to water seeping into homes, damaging floors, walls, and belongings. This type of damage can also lead to more severe issues like mold or mildew if not addressed promptly.
  • Wind Damage: While the impact of wind might not always be immediately noticeable, it can dislodge roof shingles, break windows, and even cause structural misalignments.
  • Other Damages: Other damages could include electrical issues due to lightning strikes, landscaping damage, and even damage to outdoor structures like sheds or detached garages.

Can a House Be Damaged in a Storm?

While the question might seem straightforward, many homeowners underestimate the multifaceted ways in which a storm can impact their homes. Beyond the immediately observable damages, storms can have long-term repercussions on the structural and functional aspects of a house. The roof of a home is its first line of defense against the elements. During a storm, roofs can sustain damage from heavy rainfall, hail, or wind-driven debris. Missing or curled shingles, leaks, and even complete roof failures can be the result of intense storm conditions. High-speed winds and flying debris can easily shatter windows or damage doors. Even if the damage is minimal, such as small cracks, they can lead to bigger problems like water leaks or increased vulnerability to future storms.

The foundational structure of a home can be at risk during particularly violent storms. This includes potential damage to the home’s foundation from flooding or the shifting and settling of the house due to wind forces or fallen trees. Such issues may not be immediately evident but can lead to significant problems if left unaddressed. Beyond the direct impact of the storm, secondary damages can arise. This includes potential mold growth from untreated water damage, electrical malfunctions from water exposure, or even pest infestations in areas of the home that were compromised during the storm. To ensure all damages, both immediate and potential future issues, are addressed, a comprehensive post-storm assessment is crucial.

How Long Do You Have to File a Hurricane Claim?

After the storm subsides and you’ve ensured the safety of your loved ones, one of the first things to consider is the process of filing an insurance claim. Understanding the timeframes and deadlines is critical, as delays can sometimes result in denied claims or reduced compensation.

  1. Legal Timeframes for Filing: Typically, insurance policies stipulate a certain period within which homeowners must report damages from a storm or hurricane. This period can vary based on the policy’s terms and the state’s regulations. In many cases, homeowners are required to file claims within one year of the damage occurring, but this can differ.
  2. Regional Differences: It’s essential to recognize that the specified timeframe can vary from one region to another. Some states might have extended deadlines, especially if they frequently experience severe weather events. It’s always advisable to check local regulations and the specifics of your insurance policy.
  3. The Importance of Acting Swiftly: While there might be a set legal window, it’s always in the homeowner’s best interest to act as quickly as possible. Swift action ensures: faster processing and compensation; minimized secondary damages (e.g., mold growth due to delays in repairing water damage); and accurate documentation of damages, which can be harder to do as time progresses.

What Can You Claim After a Storm?

One of the primary concerns for homeowners is discerning exactly what they’re entitled to claim. Property damage often takes center stage in such scenarios. Homeowners typically seek compensation for structural damages to their residence, including the destruction of personal items like electronics, furniture, and other belongings. Additionally, damages to other structures on the property, such as garages, fences, and sheds, are also often covered.

Beyond the tangible property damages, the aftermath of a severe storm can sometimes render a home uninhabitable. In such situations, homeowners may find themselves eligible to claim ‘loss of use’. This can cover expenses related to finding temporary housing, additional meal costs, and even supplementary transportation costs that arise due to the displacement.

Another significant area of claims is Additional Living Expenses (ALE). ALE isn’t just limited to the costs of securing alternative accommodation. It encompasses any extra costs that homeowners might incur as a direct consequence of the storm damage. This can range from utility setup costs in a temporary residence to storage fees for salvaged belongings.

Of paramount importance to the claims process is the documentation and evidence that homeowners provide. Capturing the damage through photos and videos, retaining receipts for any repairs or replacements undertaken, and keeping a record of all additional expenses incurred due to the storm will prove indispensable. This meticulous documentation is crucial for ensuring a smooth claims process and receiving the rightful compensation.

Dealing with the aftermath of a storm is undeniably challenging. Beyond the physical damages, navigating the legal and insurance landscapes can add to the stress. But knowledge is power. By understanding the nuances of storm damage law and what one can claim, homeowners are better equipped to face these adversities.

And with the support of trusted companies like Callender Bowlin, the journey becomes less daunting. If you find yourself grappling with storm-related damages and claims, reach out to Callender Bowlin at (713) 955-9719 for professional guidance and support.