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Homeowners: Prepare your home and yourself for spring storms

Spring is here, and with that comes warmer -- and stormier -- weather. This means it's a good time to make sure you and your home are ready for the ravages of Mother Nature. Being prepared can help you minimize the damage and hopefully make it through the season unscathed.

Below are some basic storm readiness steps you may want to tackle before we get too far into the season. They are all fairly simple measures, but they can be incredibly effective at protecting your home.

  • Examine the trees around your home. Trim back any big branches that could fall or hit your home in high winds.
  • Replace broken shutters.
  • Repair sections of the roof that are loose or leaking.
  • Clean out your gutters.
  • Make sure downspouts are clear, in good shape and directed away from the house.
  • Assess the land around your home and consider re-sloping if water is settling toward your house.
  • Fix or replace broken windows.
  • Seal or reseal any holes around windows, doors and pipes.

Taking the time to do these things can protect your home and minimize the damage done in a tornado or other serious storm. It can also provide you with some peace of mind and confidence that your home is protected from the elements.

Unfortunately, there is no way to protect your home from all weather-related damage. Despite reasonable efforts, high winds can pull off roofs; heavy rains can cause flooding; lightning can cause fires; large hail can dent just about any surface it hits. In these situations, insurance should cover the damage and make it possible to repair and rebuild.

However, if your insurance company refuses to cover storm damage or keeps delaying your claim, you may benefit from taking additional steps to protect yourself and your home. For instance, filing a legal claim against an insurance company engaging in bad faith actions can help you recover the money you deserve for unlawful insurance practices.

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