If you think you have damage from recent weather events, there are essential steps you should take right away. Your safety and your family's safety are most important to us. Always consider these safety tips before proceeding with property damage after severe weather.
- Make sure the weather event is entirely over. Stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio for Virginia or a local alert system for current information and instructions.
- Contact your loved ones, and let them know you're okay.
- Wear long sleeves, long pants, and sturdy shoes while assessing the damage.
- If you haven't lost power but smell something burning, see frayed or sparking wires, or suspect a gas leak, turn off the main circuit breaker and the natural gas and remove propane tanks.
- If anyone is trapped, have them cover their mouth with clothing to avoid breathing dust. Instead of shouting, have them try to send a text, bang on a pipe or wall, or use a whistle.
- Stay away from downed power lines and unstable structures. Contact authorities to report both.
- Be aware of insurance scammers! Avoid drive-by repair solicitations.
- Do not drive through any water crossing a roadway- a few inches of moving water can move a car. Avoid this dangerous drowning risk!
What to Do If You Have Damage
1. Take immediate measures to protect your home, car, or other property
You can make temporary repairs to prevent further damage and secure your property. Save those receipts for reimbursement but hold off on complete repairs until one of our adjusters can assess your situation, including tree removal and clean-up that has caused property damage.
2. Call your independent agent. Your agent can help you with your specific situation. Have your policy number and a list of questions ready: Am I covered? What's my deductible? When can I expect an adjuster to come to inspect the damage? What are the next steps?
3. Start the claims process. You can also call our 24/7 Claims Hotline: 1-877-968-7252 or start a claim online in our Member Center. If you have car insurance with us, you also have 24/7 Emergency Roadside Assistance: 1-800-913-8847. We also have helpful FAQs about weather damage claims.
4. What if my house is unlivable? If your home has severe damage and is not safe to live in, make temporary arrangements to stay in a secure location. Save all living expense receipts, including hotel and food bills.
5. Make use of your home inventory to record damage or loss. A home inventory is a valuable record of the contents of your home you have in case of a home damage claim. There are several free and useful apps to create one using your phone or tablet easily. If you don't have a home inventory, create a running list of damaged items, or use a printed list. Take pictures or video-tape damage, and do not throw away anything until an adjuster has visited.
6. Be sure to complete the required claim forms promptly to avoid delaying your claim. Also, keep in mind, we're working hard to take care of our members. Major weather events can result in many claims and can delay normal claims processing timelines. Your patience may be needed and is appreciated.
Every policy varies depending on the coverage you chose with your agent, including limits and deductibles. Keeping that in mind and checking your policy for specific coverage, here are some general rules of thumb:
- What if my tree fell on my neighbor's house? If a fallen tree, play equipment, or another object has damaged your neighbor's house or property, their home insurance handles the claims and pays for the damage. Likewise, if your neighbor's tree falls on your house, your home insurance pays. We highly recommend both parties file a claim and allow their respective insurance providers to sort through the details. If a tree fell that was should have been removed long ago due to death, rotting, and/or decay, the owner may be found liable. In that case, liability coverage may step in.
- If your tree fell but doesn't damage anything, you would most likely pay to have it removed or remove it yourself.
- If your roof has wind or hail damage, or siding, gutters, windows, and any contents inside, your standard homeowners insurance will cover the loss as specified by your policy. That includes damage directly resulting from the initial loss, like water damage from rain blowing through a damaged roof.
- Home Flooding is not covered. However, water damage can be covered if it occurs as a result of storm damage to your home.
- What if a tree damaged my car? Any damage to your vehicle resulting from the weather is protected by comprehensive car insurance. That includes damage from a tree branch or flying debris if you're driving when it occurs, or your car was parked. And remember, this includes storm damage from your neighbor's tree as well as flooding of your car as long as you opted to add optional comprehensive coverage. You can speak with your agent to be sure you have it.
- If you had a car accident during the severe weather, damages would be covered by the collision coverage on your policy, depending on who is at fault if another driver is involved.
If you're reading this, you or someone you care about probably had damage caused by Virginia's severe weather. We're sorry if you're experiencing a difficult time and know insurance claims can be stressful. We're committed to providing you with the best experience! We're here for you.