What to Know About Hurricane Season as a Homeowner
Hurricane season seems to come around quicker each year.If you are a new homeowner or have moved to a region where storms are prevalent, our guide on hurricane preparedness can provide some steps to take if your home sustains damage.
Before the StormYou may have to leave your home to seek safer shelter if the storm becomes too dangerous. Before you go, however, there are a few things you should do to make any necessary recovery easier.
Pull out your phone and snap photos of every room, paying careful attention to the walls and roofline. Do the same for the home’s exterior. Take additional notes for those items you might want to replace with the same model, such as kitchen appliances.
Gather important papers and documents, such as birth certificates, passports, and insurance policies. If you must leave, take them with you in a waterproof container. It is also advisable to back up your documents by taking photos of them and saving them to the “cloud” of your choice.
Secure any outdoor play equipment, outbuildings, plants, and fencing as best you can. This may prevent further damage to your home or a neighbor’s property. If you have time, trim back any plant or tree material that could fall or become airborne due to the high winds.
After the StormOnce the winds and water have calmed, it is time to document and assess. Continue to take photos and videos of any damage even if it appears minor. A small leak or crack could lead to larger issues later, so it is vital to have documentation of when the problem began. If repairs must be made quickly, document the before and after. If you buy materials to help with repairs, keep all receipts.
It is also your responsibility to prevent further property damage by securing the home. You can do this by boarding up windows or doors, and fastening a tarp on the roof to prevent leaks.
Beware of Repair ScamsBe wary of scammers posing as contractors or repair people in the wake of a hurricane. They may also pose as government officials or relief workers to solicit money or personal information.
These helpful tips may help you spot a repair scam:
- Officials always carry identification.
- There are no fees to apply for FEMA assistance, SBA loans, or other state help. • Be wary of contractors who bid dramatically more or less than the insurance adjuster’s quote.
- Be wary of door-to-door salespeople who have no contract, blanks in the contract, or do not wish to leave the contract for you to review.
- Check for contracting licenses.
Disaster Relief and Payment OptionsIf you have been temporarily displaced, make sure to update your contact information with your mortgage servicer. Ask about available payment relief options including payment forbearance, loan modification options, and waving late charges.
If you have severe damage, you can apply for disaster relief through organizations like FEMA, USDA, Small Business Administration (SBA), or the Red Cross.
Visit FEMA’s Disaster Assistance page for more information on finding help after a hurricane or other natural disaster.
About the Author: Renee Douglas has 25 plus years in the financial institutions industry including auditing privately held and publicly traded companies. As Director of Mortgage Risk and Business Controls in conjunction with the first line of defense, she oversees the operational risks associated with residential lending including audits, quality control, and compliance.