a man inspecting a roof

Was Your Home Damaged in a Storm?

Updated April 3, 2021 . AmFam Team

Mother Nature can be unpredictable, and sometimes even a little shady. Some storms cause instant and obvious damage to your home. Other times, the damage might not be as noticeable. Here are some useful tips to help you discover the potential damage you can’t see.

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a worker fixing roof tiles

How to Check Your Roof for Storm Damage

Your roof is pretty open and exposed to the elements, making it a prime target for a bad storm and it often takes the brunt of punishment. If you think damage has been done, the only way to really tell is to check it out — from the safety of ground level, of course.

  • Can you see any raised or missing shingles? You might even find some in your yard or your neighbor’s
  • Inspect gutters and downspouts for dents and see if any large pieces of roof have washed down. The best time to look for dents in gutters and downspouts is typically at dawn or dusk when the shadows work in your favor to highlight damage
  • Very large dents can typically be seen at any time of day. Remember to walk around your whole house
  • Hail and windstorms tend to be directional so one side may be damaged while the other three sides look perfectly fine

If you have an attic or a crawlspace, it’s also a good idea to check the area for any water leaks or peeks of sunlight coming through. A detailed inspection of your roof from top to bottom will give you the best view on storm damage — and it should be performed by an expert. Learn more about checking your roof for storm damage and what to do after finding it.

a hole in a damaged window

How to Inspect for Storm Damage on Windows and Doors

Windows and doors are vulnerable to strong winds and flying debris. Examine all of your windows and doors from both sides. Look for cracks, holes, broken panes and any frame damage. If you have shutters, awnings or window caps or cladding, give these all a once-over, too. If you’re not familiar, cladding is the protective covering on the outside of the window frame.

Most cladding is made from thin aluminum and easily dented by hail. In addition to your gutters and downspouts, cladding is one of the first places where you would see evidence of hail damage.

How to Check Your Home’s Exterior

The exterior of your home is durable, but storm damage can still happen to siding, shingles — even bricks and cement boards. Keep an eye out for the following signs of storm damage on your siding:

  • Cracking
  • Chipping
  • Dings
  • Dents

Be sure to check at different times of the day to see if the change in lighting allows you to see damage more clearly.

Don’t Forget to Check Your Air Conditioner

If you have an air conditioner or window units, don’t forget to give them a good review, too. Look for evidence that hail or debris may have left behind. Air conditioner fins and coils can be vulnerable, too.

Are there other structures that could be damaged?

If you have other structures on your property that are covered by your homeowners insurance, you’ll want to look to see if they have been damaged. Other structures could include a detached garage, fence, sheds, and even your mailbox.

Use the same inspection methods to search for dents, loose windows, doors or fence posts. If you have a similar roof on your detached garage or shed as your home, it’s equally at risk.

a contractor removing tools from a truck

What to Do If You Have Storm Damage

You’ve inspected every area of your home — suppose you’ve found some storm damage. Now what? Here are the things you should do first:

Contact Your Insurance Company

One of the easiest ways to file a claim with American Family Insurance is to file it online. Submitting your claim will only take a few minutes, and it’s as easy as providing your contact information and information about the damage. You can also submit your claim by using the MyAmFam app. Once you’ve downloaded the app, you can manage the whole claims process from your phone.

You can also file a claim by:

We’ll work quickly to help you get your life back to normal.

Keep in mind your insurance company might want to have an adjuster look at your property to help them assess the damage. It all depends on the situation and whether they need additional information.

Finding and Working with Contractors

Finding a reputable contractor can be a challenge, but your American Family Insurance agent can offer a wealth of knowledge in that area. Be cautious if someone comes to your door after a storm offering to make repairs. Storms can bring scammers to the area, which is why it’s always a great idea to use someone who comes recommended by others in your area.

Remember that any unrepaired damage could lead to further problems. It’s a great idea to have your contractor expand on your written bid with a timeline of when the repairs will begin and end.

Although it’s a common practice to pay part of the repair cost upfront for the purchase of supplies, do so with your eyes open. Be wary about paying the entire amount before the work even begins. If you can, withhold a percentage of the total due until the job is completed — just in case something goes wrong. If an inspection is required, have an agreement with your contractor in writing that you will pay the balance once to work has passed inspection.

Choosing a Contractor

Follow these guidelines to help restore your property if it has been damaged after a storm and you're looking for a contractor.

What if there’s a wait?

If there are a lot of homes in need of repair, you may find that there’s a long line ahead of you. It may be necessary to temporarily fix your home in order to prevent further damages. It might be required if you’re waiting for an adjuster or while you wait for your turn in the repair line. In the meantime, save your receipts to track expenses for temporary repairs.

the siding of a home

Review Your Homeowners Insurance Coverages

Your homeowners insurance is going to be your primary go-to if your home was damaged in a storm. You may not have experienced storm damage yet, but it’s important to make sure you’re covered if you do. Take a look at these additional coverages to add to your homeowners insurance to help protect your finances after a storm.

Matching Siding Coverage

If you have vinyl or metal siding that is damaged during a storm you may really appreciate having matching siding coverage. Imagine you have to repair one entire side of your home but when your contractor goes to make the order, he discovers your color has been discontinued and a reasonable match may not be available.

If you have this added coverage, you not only get covered for the damaged side of your home, but you get up to $20,000 toward new siding for the rest of your home so it once again matches.

Actual Cash Value vs. Replacement Cost

One thing to discuss with your agent is whether you want replacement cost value or actual cash value coverage for your roof. They’ll be happy to explain which coverage is best for your home.

Optional Higher Deductible

If you’re the kind of person who is more comfortable with risk, you might want to opt for a higher wind and hail deductible or a percentage deductible. This will mean you pay more out of pocket if there is storm damage, but it could save you a bit on your regular premiums. It’s just one of many ways you can control what you pay for your insurance to better fit your budget.

Need to file a storm damage claim?

Remember, the most important thing in any storm is your safety and the safety of your loved ones. Once Mother Nature has left, then it’s time to take stock of your property and assess any damages — safely.

If you need to file a storm claim, you can easily file your claim online. Log into My Account to get started or use the MyAmFam app. Be sure to reach out to your American Family Insurance agent to ask any questions. They’ll be happy to walk you through the process and help you get on the road to recovery.

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The information on this webpage represents only a brief description of coverages, is not part of your policy, and is not a promise or guarantee of coverage. If there is any conflict between this information and your policy, the provisions of the policy will prevail. Insurance policy terms and conditions may apply. Coverage features and limits vary by state and may be subject to change. Some products are not available in every state. Discount availability and eligibility vary by state and policy terms. (Discounts apply to auto and property policies.) Please check with your agent and read the policy for exact details on coverages and exclusions.

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