Storm Damage? What are the next steps?

Spring is here and so are those seasonal storms. The HBA has some tips for how to handle down tree branches, damage to your home, and avoiding shady contractors looking to take advantage of unsuspecting homeowners.


The roof is most susceptible to costly damage. If a tree limb or other heavy debris fell on your roof during a storm, your home might have structural damage, so be cautious.

Common signs of roof damage are:

  • Holes in the roof
  • Split seams
  • Missing shingles
  • Bruises or dented asphalt shingles
  • Cracked or broken tile, slate, or concrete shingles
  • Granules collecting in gutters or downspouts
  • Leaks in your roof or ceiling
  • Dents on vents, gutters, or flashing

Windows and doors are vulnerable to wind damage and flying debris. Inspect your windows for cracks, holes, broken panes and damaged frames. Watch out for shards of glass, and be sure to board up broken windows until they can be fixed.

Look for damage to siding, paint, bricks and other exterior surfaces of your home. Also check outdoor appliances, like air conditioning units. You’re looking for dings, dents, cracks, splitting, holes, breaks chipping and discoloration.


“The first step is to access the damage and document everything,” says Ken Jansen of Lake Michigan Insurance Company.  “More information is better, save the stories from the newspaper, get photos of everything and then call your agent to get the claims process started.”

Jansen went on to say, there are only so many adjusters in the area and you may not be able to wait for them to assess the damage and make things happen.  “You can go ahead and take care of the immediate situation, and prevent any additional damage without the adjuster as long as you have documentation.”

For example, a tree may have that came through the window, go ahead take photos, clean up the mess and cover the window to prevent additional damage to your home.

“You don’t want to go ahead and hire someone to replace the window before an adjuster as seen the damage and just present the bill to the insurance company,’ says Joel Schwiebert of Red Cedar Insurance Agency.

“It may take a little time, but an adjuster will come to your home and based on the policy determine the cost of your loss.  That will go to your insurance agent and based on your policy they will tell you what your policy will cover.  It’s not a bad idea to get a quote from a reputable contractor prior to hearing from your insurance company, but I wouldn’t recommend starting any major work until you hear from your agent.”

If your car was damaged in the storm, that generally falls under your car insurance policy, not your homeowners insurance.


“It’s important to find reputable storm repair contractors, says Andy Lofgren Executive Officer of the HBA of Greater Grand Rapids.  “Contractors should be licensed and be able to show proof of insurance.  There are many who may appear reputable but may be looking to take advantage of the situation. The HBA is a great resource to find reputable contractors.“

Once you have found your contractor make sure they perform a full property inspection, including the roof, windows, siding, AD units, screens, concrete and all other exterior surfaces.

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