We answer common questions about insurance coverage and filing claims after a disaster. Policies have different language. Check your policy or call your insurance agent or company if you have questions about what your policy covers. You can also call our Help Line at 800-252-3439.
Damage to your house and property
Can I make repairs to my property immediately?
It’s generally OK to make temporary repairs. Don’t make permanent repairs until you’ve talked to your insurance company.
Your policy should pay for the materials and labor you used to make repairs. But take pictures of the damage before doing any work.
My home was flooded by a sewer line that backed up. Is this covered under my homeowners policy?
It depends on your policy. Some policies cover water or sewage from outside your house that enters through sewers or drains.
I put my furniture in my front yard to dry out and someone stole them. Will my homeowners pay to replace them?
It depends on your policy. Most policies cover theft. But you’ll have to pay your deductible.
A storm blew my fence down. Will my homeowners pay for the repairs to my fence?
If your policy provides coverage for wind, you likely have some coverage for the fence. Coverage for fences is usually limited to actual cash value. That means your company will deduct depreciation from what it pays. You’ll also have to pay your deductible.
My detached garage and storage shed were damaged. Will my policy cover these?
Typically, yes. Your policy will probably pay up to 10% of the amount you insured your house for. Polices might not provide coverage for other structures such as sheds or buildings used to run a business.
Mold is growing on furniture and other belongings in my house. Will my policy pay to replace the items?
Most homeowner and renters policies cover sudden and accidental water damage, like a burst pipe or broken washer hose. If mold grows on a damaged item, it would be covered. Policies usually won’t cover damage from gradual leaks.
What type of water and mold damage isn’t covered?
Most home policies don’t cover water damage from gradual leaks or seepage, and that includes damage from mold. Mold from a flood would not be covered because home policies don’t cover floods. You would need to add it to your policy or buy a separate flood policy.
Trees that fell in your yard
A tree fell on my house and damaged my roof. Will my homeowners pay for repairs?
Many policies pay for damages from falling objects, like trees. Call your agent or company to ask if your policy will pay.
A tree fell in my yard. Will my homeowners policy pay for tree removal?
Many policies provide some coverage to remove trees or limbs that fell due to storm damage and damage your house or block your driveway. Trees and limbs falling in your yard usually aren’t covered. Call your agent or company to ask if your policy will pay.
My neighbor's tree fell on my house. Will my neighbor´s homeowners policy pay for the damage and tree removal?
Probably not, unless your neighbor was at fault. Your neighbor isn’t responsible for acts of nature. If your neighbor's policy doesn’t pay, you can file a claim under your own policy.
A tree fell on my car. Will my auto insurance pay for the damage to my car?
Your auto policy will pay for damages if you have comprehensive coverage.
If the tree was your neighbor’s, their homeowners insurance might pay if your neighbor is somehow at fault. If not, their policy likely won’t pay because your neighbor isn’t responsible for an act of nature.
Staying in a hotel, food spoilage
I need to stay in a hotel because my house was damaged. Will my policy pay for the hotel?
If you can't stay in your home because of damage covered by your policy, your homeowners or renters policy may pay for a hotel or rental. Check your policy for limits on the coverage. Call your agent or company if you’re staying in a hotel because you can’t stay home.
We have no power or water in our house. Will my policy pay for a hotel until utilities are restored?
Probably not. Policies usually only pay for hotels if your house was damaged by an event your policy covers. That probably wouldn’t include a power outage. Call your agent if you’re staying in a hotel because you can’t stay home.
The food in my refrigerator spoiled when the power was out. Will my homeowners policy pay to replace my food?
Most homeowners and renters policies will pay up to $500 or more for spoiled food if the power fails under certain circumstances. Often, there is not a deductible. Take pictures or keep a list of the food that spoiled.
Help from FEMA
I have insurance. Should I apply for FEMA aid?
Yes, go ahead and apply. If you have insurance of any kind (homeowners, wind, flood), you must use it first. If there is something your insurance doesn’t cover, including temporary housing, FEMA might be able to help.
I have replacement cost coverage on my house. So why am I only getting a check for actual cash value?
The first check your company will send you will likely be for the actual cash value. Once you’ve started repairs and show proof to your company, they’ll send you the remainder to equal the replacement cost.
Learn more: Home policies: Replacement cost or actual cash value?
Will my homeowners company send the claim check straight to me?
If you have a loan on your house, the company will usually send the check to your mortgage company. You’ll then have to work with the mortgage company to get the money released for repairs.
When will I get the check if it was sent to the mortgage company first?
The mortgage company must get in touch with you within 10 days of getting the check from your insurance company. Once you’ve met the mortgage company’s requirements, it has 10 days to send you the check. You might be eligible to interest if the mortgage company takes more than 10 days.
I’m not happy with the amount of the check my insurance company sent me. I plan to ask for more. Should I cash the check?
Talk to your company before you sign the check. Some companies consider your claim final and settled if you sign the check.
The check might also only be a partial payment to help you start repairs. The company will then send more money when you give them proof that you’re repairing your house. Ask your company if this is the case.
Winter storm damage
My pipe burst due to freezing. Will my insurance pay for the damage?
Many policies will pay for damage to your house caused by a frozen pipe that burst, but there may be some limitations. Call your agent or company to ask if your policy will pay.
Learn more: Is water damage covered by home insurance? (video)
The weight of ice and snow damaged my fence and patio. Will my policy pay for the damage?
It depends on your policy. Many policies only pay for damages to your house. They might pay for your fence or patio if your house collapses onto them from the weight of ice or snow. Call your agent or company to ask if your policy will pay.
The weight of the ice and snow caused damage to my home. Do I have coverage?
Many homeowners policies will pay if your house was damaged by the weight of sleet, snow, or ice. Call your agent or company to ask if your policy will pay.