Top 5 Must Do’s After a Hurricane Damages Your Home

By: Paul Holmes
Tree fallen on house and car after hurricane.

Take photos of the storm damage, and file an insurance claim as soon as possible.

Hurricanes wreak havoc because they combine two of nature’s most damaging forces: wind and water. If you live on or near the coast, your best defense against hurricane damage is to make sure you have the proper home insurance coverage and know what to do to support your claim after a storm.

Flood Insurance

When it comes to hurricane damage, water is usually the culprit. However, flooding from rising water – including storm surge or flooded rivers and lakes – typically isn't covered under standard home insurance, so you will need to purchase a separate flood insurance policy.

If you live in a flood-prone area and have a mortgage on your home, federal law may require you to carry flood insurance.

Most flood insurance policies require a 30-day waiting period, so don’t put off getting coverage until a storm is threatening or it will be too late!

House with flood water in yard after hurricane.

Rising water causes much of the damage during a hurricane.

Hurricane Deductibles

Providers typically include a hurricane deductible in insurance policies for coastal homes. Most other insurance deductibles have a set dollar amount, but hurricane deductibles are set at a percentage of the home's value.

That means if a house is valued at $300,000 and has a 5% deductible, the policyholder must contribute $15,000 out of pocket toward repairs or replacement before the policy begins paying. This applies only when a home is damaged or destroyed by a hurricane.

To see if your policy includes a hurricane deductible and how much it is, contact your insurance agent.

Emergency supply kit with water, flashlights, batteries, canned goods, radio, matches, candles, and gasoline.

A hurricane emergency kit should include water, flashlights, batteries, and other supplies.

What to Do After a Hurricane Strikes

If your home has been damaged by a hurricane, take the following steps:

  1. Photograph and Document Damage: Document the damage thoroughly with photos, as it will make the insurance claims process much easier. In addition to photos, keep a running list of all damaged items.
  2. Conduct Emergency Repairs: Do only what's necessary to prevent further damage after a storm, such as covering broken windows with plastic or roofs with tarps to keep rain out. Don’t make or commission permanent repairs until an insurance adjuster reviews the damage. While it may be tempting to start cleaning up and throwing out damaged items after the storm, your insurance adjuster needs to see what happened firsthand to make you the best offer to settle your claim.
  3. Storm over highway.

    Evacuate low-lying areas.

  4. Secure Home Inventory: All home insurance policyholders should compile a home inventory of their possessions before a storm strikes, and keep it in a safe place. A home inventory is a list that documents the contents of your home. It should include photos, detailed descriptions, and purchase receipts when possible. Having a home inventory will make the claims process much easier. If you don’t currently keep a home inventory, start one as soon as possible.
  5. File a Claim ASAP: Insurance companies sometimes work on a first-come, first-served basis; so it's in your best interest to file an insurance claim as soon as possible. When you contact your provider, let them know the extent of the damages and that you have an inventory of your possessions. An insurance adjuster will come to your property, assess the damage, and determine the size of your payout.
  6. Secure Safe Lodging: If you home is uninhabitable, you’ll need to find your family a safe place to stay while your home is being repaired. The loss of use coverage in a standard homeowner insurance policy typically helps pay for your family's lodging as long as the damage is part of a covered claim. Check your policy or ask your agent to make sure you have this coverage and to determine its monetary value and time limits.

Suffering damage or loss from a hurricane can be devastating, and recovery takes time. If you are prepared and plan in advance, repairing the damage will go much smoother.

Remember to be patient during the claims process. With the proper preparation, things will be back to normal soon.

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3 Comments on “Top 5 Must Do’s After a Hurricane Damages Your Home”

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  • Deanna Seely Says:
    September 12th, 2017 at 1:34 am

    We filed 2 claims in one year. One caused from weather and one from our neighbors home catching fire.. So after 25 years with the same company they dropped us!!!!



  • sharon sloan Says:
    September 1st, 2017 at 10:58 pm

    Our summer home was totally destroyed inside and the roof by a hurricane. We did have water damage insurance too. But, people keep saying well you will never get that home covered again by your insurance? Just curious – we have been covered by this same insurance for multiple years on all our vehicles, homes, etc. What is the general rule on this? Can they refuse to cover you again?



  • AlJo Says:
    August 31st, 2014 at 4:47 am

    Very helpful tips, however; I wouldn’t file an insurance claim unless the total damages were really, really severe. If you decide to file a claim, your insurance premium will most likely increase, so make sure it’s worth it.


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Top 5 Must Do’s After a Hurricane Damages Your Home