Texans are no strangers to extremes, whether it’s distance on a map, their love of sports or the weather. Just five years ago, the state was having its driest year on record. Today, the southeast and central parts of the state are grappling with their second year of record rainfall and flooding. On Thursday, June 2, more than 15 inches of rain fell in 12 hours northeast of Houston, only days after an area northwest of the city received more than 20 inches in two days. It was the region’s second “100-year rainstorm” in less than a week.
With the heavy rains and massive flooding taking center stage, it’s almost easy to forget about the other extreme hazards that can threaten your home when severe weather strikes, such as hail, high wind and lightning.
Hurricanes usually grab all the headlines, but hailstorms are actually the most damaging weather events in Texas, causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage every year. Then there are the high winds and tornadoes that can accompany thunderstorms, wreaking havoc on homes and businesses. And when it comes to deaths caused by lightning strikes, Texas is second in the nation according to statistics from Weather.com.
Are you and your home prepared for one of these extreme weather events?
You can't control what Mother Nature throws at you, but there are proactive steps you can take – before and after severe weather strikes – to minimize property loss, help the insurance claim process go more smoothly and make sure you’ll be able to pick up the pieces when it’s all over.
Before the storm
- Take a thorough inventory of everything you own; document it in writing, photos, and video; and keep your records in a safe place. Scan and upload documents to the cloud for safe keeping. You’ll be glad you did when you need to file a claim or apply for federal disaster aid. Check to see if your insurer offers a home inventory app, or find one online to make the process easier.
- Protect your vulnerabilities. Whether it’s clearing brush to prevent fires, creating drainage to prevent flooding, or installing impact-resistant roofing to prevent hail damage, take precautions against the threats most likely to affect your home.
- Create an emergency plan that covers things such as shutting off utilities, emergency communication and escape routes. Have an emergency kit with basic supplies and keep plenty of water on-hand.
- Know your insurance. Review your homeowners, auto and other policies to make sure you have adequate coverage, including any supplemental coverage such as flood insurance or a wind and hail policy. Fully understand the coverage, limits and deductibles on each policy to avoid costly surprises down the road. Ideally, you should review your homeowners insurance policy with your agent at least once a year.
After the storm
- Report damage to your insurance agent as soon as possible, keep a record of everyone you talk to and file a written claim immediately to protect your rights under Texas’ prompt-pay law.
- Thoroughly document all damaged property using pictures and video if possible. Don't discard any damaged items until your insurance adjuster has evaluated them.
- Remove water and dry things out ASAP. Move any water-soaked items to a dry, well-ventilated area, and have any standing water pumped out as soon as feasible.
- Prevent further damage by making repairs such as covering broken windows and holes to keep rain out. Don't make permanent repairs until your insurance company directs you to, and keep accurate records of what you spend on repairs.
- Contact the Red Cross at 1-800-733-2767 if you need shelter or emergency food or water; or call FEMA at 1-800-621-3362 if you’re not insured and want to see what financial help is available.
Is your home prepared for Mother Nature’s extreme events? Contact Higginbotham Insurance today, and we’ll help you make sure it is.