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Preparing for wind damage

November 1, 2012
The Daily News

The effects of superstorm Sandy were felt from the East Coast to the Central Upper Peninsula this week.

High wind warnings and watches were issued throughout the region.

Residents are urged to take precautions to stay safe when high wind warnings are issued.

Stay indoors during high winds due to the risk of injury from tree limbs and flying debris.

Anchor or temporarily remove outdoor decorations that might become lost or damaged from strong wind gusts.

It is also recommended that residents move vehicles under cover to prevent damage from falling limbs and flying debris.

If there is damage, windstorm losses are typically covered under standard homeowners and renters insurance policies, reports the Insurance Institute of Michigan.

There is also coverage under the optional comprehensive portion of the auto insurance policy. Policy deductibles apply for auto, homeowners and business-related insurance claims, Insurance Institute of Michigan officials said.

If you have a claim, report it to your insurance agent or call your insurance company's claims telephone number.

After alerting your insurance representative of a claim, take necessary steps to prevent further damage.

Make sure to cover holes in the roof, walls, doors and windows with plastic or boards.

Be careful not to risk your own safety in making the repairs, however. Also, it is important to keep an accurate list of supplies purchased for emergency repair.

Homeowners can help by making a room-by-room inventory of damaged property.

Important information is needed to accurately determine the value of the damaged or destroyed property.

For each damaged item, include brand name, model number, age, purchase price, place of purchase and the estimated cost to replace.

Use reputable companies for all repairs. Ask the contractor to thoroughly identify the work to be performed and provide a written estimate, including the proposed cost.

Also, ask for a warranty on the work.

The following is information based on general questions about storm damage:

Are high winds covered under my homeowners policy?

Damages caused by high winds, tornadoes and hail are covered by homeowners, renters and commercial insurance policies.

Do I have coverage for flooding?

Flood coverage is excluded from homeowners and renters insurance policies, however, this protection is available through the National Flood Insurance Program. Check with your insurance agent or company representative for details. Many licensed agents offer flood insurance. If you're having trouble finding flood insurance, call the National Flood Insurance Program's agent referral program at 1-888-CALL FLOOD.

Is there coverage for water backup?

Coverage for sewer drain back up is available through many insurance companies as an endorsement to your current homeowners or renters policy. Coverage limitations vary by company, so it's important to understand how and where it applies. Some insurance companies offer coverage up to the limits of the policy, while other carriers limit the coverage to a specified amount such as $5,000 or $10,000. Other variations include full coverage for sump pump failure to other insurers specifying what items will be covered in the event of such a claim.

Does my policy provide coverage for debris removal?

Typically, the cost associated with removing a fallen tree (or trees) is covered up to a specific dollar amount under the following circumstances:

- The tree was uprooted due to windstorm, hail, or the peril of weight of ice, snow or sleet or a neighbor's tree was downed under the same circumstances.

- The tree damaged a covered structure such as the roof, garage or shed, or

- The fallen tree has not damaged covered property but blocks the insured's driveway or handicap access ways.

Is there coverage for my trees and shrubs?

Trees, shrubs, plants or lawn are not covered from damage caused by wind or hail. Such damages are covered from the perils of fire, lightning, explosion, riot or civil commotion, aircraft, nonowned vehicles, vandalism, malicious mischief or theft. The limit is 5 percent of the dwelling amount, but no more than $500 for any one tree, shrub or plant. If lightning strikes a tree and falls on your home, homeowners coverage applies as noted.

I had to make some repairs to prevent further damage to my home. Can I get reimbursed?

Costs incurred from taking measures to protect against further damage (such as placing plastic over a damaged roof, covering windows to prevent further rain damage, etc.) are likely reimbursable under your homeowners policy. Make sure to save the receipts.

For more information, call the Insurance Information Hotline, toll-free, at 1-800-777-8005.



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