Navigating storm damage insurance

Lower Oakland County communities are facing hardship as relentless rain, sweltering heat, and strong winds continue to cultivate extreme weather. With intense storms projected to continue throughout the weekend, homeowners are desperate to know what they can do to protect themselves as well as their belongings.

State Farm agent David Arce offers advice to help owners through what insurance agents consider to be  ‘claims season’.

"It's a trying time. We have claims season. It's in the spring. It's in the storms coming in the summer, and it's in the fall. All with water," Arce said in a recent interview with Reporter Brandon Hudson,"We’re getting calls about lots of wind debris, and lots of trees and branches in yards."

Fallen trees have proven to be among the top concerns for storm damage, with cars, houses, and power lines being struck by branches thrown by the wind.

Arce wants homeowners to remember that personal safety should be kept in mind above all else, especially when dealing with collapsed power lines. Before investigating damage done to the home or cars, people should be sure to check their surroundings for any down power lines. After ensuring there is no threat of a live wire nearby, one can see what damage has been done to structures. 

A helpful tool for documenting damage is photos. Arce encourages people to take pictures of their property following the storm and to know what is covered by one's policy.

"What we’re talking about is fallen trees on homes and fallen trees on vehicles. Two different things. So, you want to make sure if it’s on your house, it’s your homeowners' policy. You wanna make sure if it’s on your car, it’s your car insurance policy. But only if you have comprehensive coverage," Arce said.

A common dispute comes about whose property originates from which. Arce explains that it does not matter who whose tree it is, the coverage is generated from the policy of the damaged property owner.

Companies also receive attempted claims for things that do not fall under the customer's insurance. Some things that are covered in the state of Michigan include wind damage and property struck by fallen trees. Insurance, however, does not cover trees that have not hit anything. Arce advises property owners to hold off on calling landscapers until phone lines have died down to avoid uncharged prices. And whenever in doubt, reach out to your insurance agent.