Mid-summer is the perfect time to work on home improvement and maintenance. The weather tends to be fair during most of this period of the year. It’s a good time to take care of small problems that could lead to home damage during severe weather. Thunderstorms, not to mention hurricanes, can threaten Florida in late summer or fall. Consider some of the tasks you can do in the meantime to make your home safer from storm damage.
The Impact of Storm Damage on Homes
Weather can do a number on your home, particularly if you have existing damage that makes it unstable. An old or leaking roof could allow in rainwater, high winds could destabilize a damaged foundation, or clogged gutters and drainage systems could flood the property. Any of this damage could prove costly to repair. A poorly-kept home could even increase your likelihood of having to make a claim on your homeowners insurance.
While your homeowners policy will often pay for weather damage, it will have a variety of conditions attached. Existing damage could drive up the final cost you have to claim on your coverage. This might increase your insurance burden and potentially drive up your rates. Exclusions might also apply to damage to certain parts of the home. In some cases, damage exacerbated by wear & tear won’t have coverage at all.
Quick Summertime Home Maintenance Tips
While you have nice weather, take some time to work outside and do some improvement. A multitude of tasks could help you better storm-proof the home in case of severe weather. While you won’t be able to eliminate every risk of storm damage, you can still keep these risks relatively low.
- Repair your roof. An old or damaged roof is one of the best ways for rainwater to enter your home. When it does, it might cause rot, mold, and other damage to the home’s insulation or interior. Unfortunately, rain damage from leaks usually doesn’t have coverage under your insurance. Often, it is a property owner’s responsibility to repair leaks before they become significant. They also must maintain their roof as best they can to reduce these risks.
- Cut back foliage near the home. All foliage poses a risk that it will fall on the home during severe weather. However, dead trees and branches, particularly those overhanging the house, pose a greater risk. In fact, some homeowners policies won’t cover damage from fallen trees if the tree was dead at the time of the storm. However, when your policy does pay, it can cover damage to both the structure and possessions. It will also cover damage from water or other debris that gets into the home as a result of the fallen tree.
- Check your electrical system and equip the home with surge protectors. If wiring has existing issues, then lightning strikes might exacerbate damage and pose fire risks. If you have a lightning rod on the home, then make sure it does not have damage, either.
- Clean out your gutters. Gutters along the roof line help water flow off the roof and away from the home. They reduce the risk of floods and other water damage. When leaves, twigs or other debris clog gutters, the gutters don’t work correctly. They run the risk of backing up and spilling water onto the foundation and into the property.
- If the home has drainage ditches, then make sure these continue to work properly. Over time, ditches might erode or shift, and they might not allow water to run off appropriately.
- Check the foundation for cracks or holes. If the foundation has damage, then the structure might be more susceptible as well. A misaligned or broken foundation might not withstand wind damage or cause water to flood into the house or basement. Homeowners insurance often limits coverage when it comes to basement damage. They also almost never cover flood damage, particularly if it comes from weather.
- When checking the structure, also check around doors and windows. Your home will shift and settle over time, and this usually is not a problem. However, if it becomes pronounced, then doors and windows could become misaligned from their frames. Your home’s seals might not be as secure as they should be. This could make the interior susceptible to damage from the storm.
Review your homeowners insurance carefully to determine how it pays for weather damage. Deductibles will apply, and some policies limit the amount they will pay for certain damage. Special terms and conditions might also apply when it comes to named storms, like hurricanes. Don’t forget, certain weather might have no coverage at all. Your policy will often carefully define the times when it will and will not pay.
If you are not sure what coverage is best for your home, then talk to your insurance agent. They can help you define specific coverage that will best apply to your property risks. Afterwards, they will help you compare your policy options to find the most affordable coverage.