No one wants to think about the idea of losing their home, but for millions in 2017, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Maria, and the rampant wildfires throughout California made turned this nightmare into reality. Natural disasters are a fact of life, and depending on where you live, you may be at a higher risk of damage from a hurricane, tornado, wildfire, or earthquake.
The key is to be prepared and know what to do if a natural disaster damages your home. Here's what you need to know about protecting yourself and your most prized asset.
Contact Your Insurance Company
In the wake of losing your home, you're bound to face all sorts of emotional, mental, and financial troubles. It’s hard to know that you’ve lost the place you’ve called home, but while the flurry of emotions and worries can be overwhelming, you’ll want to take action as soon as possible. The first step is to contact your insurance company to report damage or a total loss.
If you’re unable to get inside of your home immediately, you can provide a more detailed report to your insurance agent in due time. The key is to report home damage as quickly as possible so that the claims process can begin.
Survey the Damage
Chances are that your home has suffered both exterior and interior damage. After a natural disaster, start with the outside of your home. Are there broken windows or cracks in the foundation? Has your driveway been ruined? Be sure to thoroughly document exterior damage with a detailed list.
The same stands true for the interior of your home. Take a close look at your home. Is there water damage from high water? Did a lack of electricity spoil all of your food? These details should all be included in your claim to your insurance company.
It’s also important to take as many pictures as possible. Pictures are a fool-proof way of showing the true damage that your home has sustained. Be sure to submit them along with your claim so that the insurance company has a full picture of the damage done to your home.
Secure Your Home If Possible
After contacting your insurance company, the next step is to secure your home against more damage and to protect any remaining assets, but, before entering your home, be sure that it’s safe to do so. Natural disasters can breach the structural state of your home. You don’t want to risk your life when entering your home. Before going inside:
Protect yourself with the proper clothing (long sleeves, boots, etc.)
Wear a mask in the event that mold is growing in your home
Wear a hat to protect your head from potential falling debris
If you’re able to safely enter your home, look around for any items that can be salvaged. Items that weren’t damaged should be taken somewhere safe to prevent possible theft or damage from lingering water, aftershocks, etc.
You’ll also want to secure your home as best as possible. Be sure that all doors are locked. If there are broken windows, board them up to prevent access into your home. You want to prevent even more damage and loss as much as possible.
Going through the aftermath of a natural disaster can be devastating, but staying positive will make things a little easier. While your home may be damaged, there are all sorts of home improvement loans that can be used to repair and restore your home. These loans can be used for exterior and interior damage as well as cosmetic and structural damage. Paying for the costs of repairing your home after a natural disaster can be impossible for most homeowners. With a home improvement loan, you can finance these costs, making them much more affordable.
Prepare For Future Natural Disasters
There’s only so much you can do to prepare against a natural disaster. One of the best things you can do is to ensure that the home insurance coverage you have is enough to cover the value of your home in the event of a total loss. You may also want to check to see if your insurance coverage protects you in the event of a natural disaster. For example, if you live on the coast, it makes sense to have flood damage coverage.
While added coverage means more money out of your pocket, the peace of mind is well worth the additional cost. Discuss coverage options with your insurance company to ensure you’re properly covered.
Natural disasters can happen at anywhere at any time. No matter where you live, it’s important to know the steps you need to take in the event that a natural disaster damages your home. Keep these tips in mind to be prepared for anything that Mother Nature may throw your way.