When Disaster Strikes: Handling Emergencies Around Your Home

No matter how carefully you maintain your home, sometime events occur that you could not have anticipated or that are out of your control. In an ideal situation, savings and your homeowners insurance will cover whatever emergencies might happen, but that is not always the case.

Even if it is, you might have a large deductible on your insurance policy, or you may want to make improvements as you make repairs rather than just restoring your home to its previous condition. In that case, insurance and your savings may not cover all of the costs.

Here are some emergency repairs and how to handle them if they occur in your home.

The Roof

There are a number of emergencies that can happen with almost any roof, and they must all be addressed immediately. Your roof is the primary protection of your home from above, and waiting may result in more damage to other parts of your home, some of that damage structural.

Wind Damage: High winds, even in areas where tornadoes and other storms do not often happen, can cause serious damage to even a new roof. It is almost impossible to be prepared for such damage.

If your roof is an older one, especially if it is nearing the 20-year-old mark, this damage can be even more extensive. Depending on your homeowner’s insurance and what they cover, you may want to simply replace the roof if the damage is extensive enough.

Even if the insurance company wants to simply make repairs, you can choose to take the amount they have offered you, and apply it towards a complete replacement. You may want to explore ideas regarding how to finance a new roof rather than draining your emergency savings fund.

Water Damage

Water damage can happen literally overnight or while you are gone at work. A broken pipe, whether from freezing temperatures or just wear and tear can flood your home very quickly. A broken water heater can cause a great deal of damage if it starts to leak, and that can be catastrophic depending on its location. Irrigation systems can also fail and flood parts of your home depending on where the issue occurs.

In addition, there is the risk of natural disaster: prolonged rain storms, flooding, and even the same types of storms that can damage your roof.

Water damage is unique, and usually requires a professional service be called in. However, rather than just drying out carpets and flooring, this may be a good time to make some changes.

Not only does replacing flooring and even furniture that is water damaged mean your home looks better and has more value, it gives contractors an opportunity to inspect subflooring and other potential issues more thoroughly than they would otherwise.

This may involve the investment of some of your own money beyond what your insurance will pay, but it will be worth it for the long-term value and comfort of your home.

Fire

Even a small fire can cause hidden damage. A kitchen fire might do more damage than just to the cabinets above the stove, and sometimes the smell of smoke can be difficult to get out of furniture, curtains, and flooring.

Disaster recovery specialists are really good at what they do, and if your insurance is covering the cost, they will probably insist that you use one along with a licensed contractor.

The other issue with fire damage is the potential it has for creating hidden electrical issues, melting insulation in wiring and compromising switches and other fixtures. Be sure before submitting any claims that you have an electrician inspect the area thoroughly and test all circuits in that area for safety.

If you live in an older home, this may also be the time to update some more of your electrical systems, ensuring they are up to code and modern standards. Again, even if repairs go beyond your insurance coverage, they will be worth the investment in the long run.

Theft

Your feeling of security at home is pretty vital, and there is nothing quite as violating as your home being broken into. However, despite the disruption this stress can cause, it is vital to remain calm and take a few key steps to make sure you recover everything you can.

Share Your Inventory with Police and Insurance: You should have an inventory of all of the items in your home with serial numbers including electronics, bicycles, musical instruments, and more. This list should be more than just in a home safe or on your computer: it should be in a file on the cloud or somewhere similarly secure where it cannot be stolen with the rest of your property.

Don’t Touch Anything Until You are Greenlighted to do So: The best opportunity police have to recover your items is if they can gather any potential evidence at the scene of the crime. Don’t move anything, touch anything, or start to clean up until the police have concluded their investigation. At the same time, you should contact your insurance agent, and see if the police report will be enough for them, or if they need to conduct their own investigation.

Share Security Information with Police and Your Insurance: Who has keys to your home, or ever has? Have you had repairs done recently where someone could have been casing the place? Have you had recent utility repairs or appliance installations? If you have, be sure to let investigators know. You are not accusing anyone, but it never hurts to rule out potential suspects.

Take your own thorough inventory of what is missing: Once the investigation gives you the green light to clean up, be sure to take a detailed look at what is really missing. Often, homeowners will be so focused on larger items, they will miss the fact that smaller ones are missing until they have already made a report of missing items, and it may be too late to get reimbursed for it.

Dealing with theft can be a very personal and heartbreaking experience, but it is essential that you remain calm and follow certain steps which will aid both police and insurance officials help you deal with your situation and return your life to normal as quickly as possible.

With any emergency, it is hard to remain calm and take care of issues without panicking, but such calm is essential. Look at what is best for you and your home long term, and make wise financial decisions at the same time. You can turn disaster into a positive experience and renew your love for your home if you are both careful and attentive.

Author: Oliver Curtis

Hi there. I’m Oliver. I’m just a young boy from the outskirts of… Okay, that’s a lie, I’m not a young boy anymore, although I certainly feel that way at heart.

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