The Texas snow storm of 2021 was a harsh reminder of just how unpredictable and unforgiving Mother Nature can be. We can do everything possible to protect our families and our homesteads against perils, yet the truth of the matter is that some things are just out of our control.
Fortunately, the list of perils covered in most home insurance policies is actually pretty broad. Standard home insurance policies normally cover roof damage and damages caused by burst or ruptured pipes. Most policies even cover damages or losses incurred due to power failures, which means your freezer full of spoiled food is probably covered up to a certain amount. You likely even have coverage to help pay for living expenses while your house is uninhabitable. Those expenses can include rent, hotel stays, restaurant meals, storage fees and more. However, as a homeowner you have the responsibility to take reasonable steps to avoid perils. If your 40 year old roof collapsed, yet there are visible signs of structural decay and wind damage from years prior, your claim for the winter storm may be denied since you should have replaced your roof years ago.
So, what can you do now?
First, contact your insurance agent if you haven’t already. If the cost to repair damages exceeds your deductible, then your agent can get you started in filing a claim. He or she may also request specific photos and documents before you begin making repairs.
Second, if you need to hire a professional for repairs, don’t hire just anyone. Be wary of imposters by requesting a certificate of insurance. Contact the insurance company on the certificate to verify the contractor’s coverage is active. It is not out of the ordinary for fake or unlicensed contractors to provide outdated documents. Your insurance agent may even require a copy of your contractor’s certificate of insurance. Document all of your expenses by keeping receipts and make a file of any major home repairs. Maintaining records supporting your responsibility as a homeowner will be an asset in helping you get future claims approved.
Lastly, review your insurance policies. Make sure you understand all the coverages on your policies and have a good grasp of the exclusions. Is your deductible way too high? Or are you under-insured or over-insured? A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional is a great ally to help you in reviewing your insurance policies. A CFP® professional regularly works alongside other professionals, like accountants, attorneys, and insurance agents, to help you make financial decisions that are in your best interest. Though not insurance agents, CFP® professionals are highly educated in insurance and can help you determine if a specific policy is consistent with your financial plan. If you don’t have a financial plan, you can go to https://www.letsmakeaplan.org/ to find a CFP® professional near you.
Published in the Victoria Advocate
Hannah Gohmert is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and the Chief Compliance Officer of KMH Wealth Management, LLC.