Living in the great state of Nebraska, there are certain things that you become accustomed to, some good and some not so good. Amazing summer sunsets that are hard to put into words, humidity in July that takes your breath away, cold, unforgiving winter days with bitter winds that cut right through you, and putting life on hold for three hours or so on a Saturday in the fall.
The Good Life has a little bit of everything (I know they’ve changed the state slogan, but I’m sentimental).
The saying goes there are two certenties in life, Death and Taxes. Well in Nebraska, there’s three, with the third one being….Hail.
In 2017, Nebraska ranked #3 for the total number of hail events for the year, behind only Texas and Kansas, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
A large majority of those who live here have been through a hail event at some point. Whether is was a small storm with only pea size hail that didn’t cause much damage, or storms like what Kearney experienced in 2002 with some hail stones reaching 5 inches in diameter!!
Since we know the time will come, the next best thing to do it to be prepared. So what do you do before and after the storm passes?
Advances in technology have made it easy to have access to weather alerts from the experts. If you haven’t already done so, take some time to download The Weather Channel app
https://weather.com/life/manage-notifications or the American Red Cross App
https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/mobile-apps.html. These apps, as well as others that are available, are a valuable resource to have available so you can get notifications and be on the look out for severe weather in you area.
Now that you have downloaded a weather app, you can be more prepared for a storm that may be in your area.
If you get a notice that one is headed your way, and may bring with it some nasty winds and hail, you should gather your family and move downstairs away from windows, or in another area of the house that does not have windows present to wait out the storm.
Assess and Minimize The Damage If Possible
After the storm passes, and you feel it is safe to go out of the room your are in or return upstairs, take a quick assessment on the inside of the home to check for damage, especially broken glass from windows.
If there is any broken glass, get it cleaned up. Broken windows from hail will also have rain that has made it’s way into the house, so try to soak up as much of the water as you can to prevent any water damage to floors, walls, and furniture.
After you have taken care of the inside, venture out and try to find any damage to the outside of the home, but only when you know that the storm has passed and it is safe.
Take a look at siding, gutters, and your roof to the best of your ability. You will also want to check for any damage from fallen trees or branches. Do a quick assessment of the damage by walking around the house. You can take pictures as well if you have your phone or a camera with you.
After you have assessed the damage, and if you are able, try to take steps that will help minimize any further damage. If any windows are broken, try to find plywood or a tarp to cover the window until a more permanent solution is available. The same can be said with the roof, but only do this if you are comfortable with climbing a ladder and hauling materials up to make the repairs. If not, make a call to friends, family, or a local roofing company to see if they could come and help.
Call Your Insurance Agent
After you have assessed the damage and made temporary repairs, the next step is to call your insurance agent.
If you have extensive damage (broken windows, tree damage, busted fence, damaged or missing shingles you can see from the ground), it is just a matter of working with your agent to file a claim on your home policy. Your agent may do this for you, or he/she may provide a claims number for your specific company so you can call them directly.
If the storm didn’t cause an extensive amount of damage to the things you can see from the ground, but you aren’t sure about the roof, have a conversation with your agent about what options are available.
In most cases, the only way to get your insurance company to come and look at your home is to file a claim. But what if you don’t have that much damage?
In our office, if there is some uncertainty about the amount of damage, we recommend having a LOCAL roofing company come by and take a look at your roof to assess the damage. (I’ll explain shortly the need for the bold and underlining). Most roofing companies will come out and take a look at your roof free of charge to let you know if you made it through ok, or if you may want to file a claim with your insurance company due to damage.
By having a roofing company assess the damage, one of two things can happen: 1.) You get the peace of mind knowing that you either don’t have the damage you thought you had or 2.) Justifies that you have enough damage to warrant filing a claim with your insurance company.
DISCLAIMER: STAY LOCAL!
Ok, so the need for the emphasis in the paragraph above is for your own good. If you get nothing else out of this, which would be a shame, remember this…Use A Local Roofing Company, Always!!
There are roofing and siding companies that will follow storms from state to state and travel for miles to swoop in on a community that has been devastated by hail, high winds, and tornados. These roofing companies will go around and knock on doors to get your business and tell you how fast they can have your roof completely repaired, using different scare tactics along the way.
DON’T LISTEN TO IT!
I understand how appealing this offer may be. You have someone here, right now, with the equipment and man power to get your roof fixed and let you move on. No need to wait. You can have it taken care of by this evening.
The problem is, once the work is finished, you will never see that company again. There is no service after the sale when they are long gone in another state. Sure, they left you a card with their phone number and an email address. But try to get a hold of anyone when the next heavy rain comes and you start to see a water spot on your ceiling. Call after call, multiple emails with no response, and you are left footing the bill for hasty work.
There are a lot of great, reputable, professional roofing companies in Kearney and across the state. And the same can be said for other places across the country. Please, please, please, if nothing else, make sure that you are using a roofing and/or siding company that has roots close to you. Local companies will back up their work, and you can get a response from them if you can and need some additional work.
In conclusion, the most important thing is being prepared during the storm season. Keep an eye on the weather and take advantage of the technology available to know what the forecast may bring. And if you have questions about damage, whether it be from a recent storm, or one earlier in the year, make sure to call your insurance agent for sound advice on what to do next. Do some homework ahead of time and ask around the neighborhood about different roofing companies in your community.
Because just like the death and taxes thing…it’s not a matter of if, but when.