Severe Weather in Lincoln, NE – 2018
We’re certainly no strangers to severe weather here in the Midwest. This time of year, from hail storms and torrential downpours to high winds and tornadoes, it can get pretty dicey. As evidenced by this spring, experiencing weather extremes in a short time period is also a more frequent occurrence today, which makes it pretty hard to predict what will come next.
With the severe weather that we’ve seen in recent years across the United States and globally, it comes as no big shock that weather-related disasters are considered one of the largest risk concerns for homeowners and commercial property owners.
We’ll probably have our fair share of bad storms this year, and in the wake of those, there could easily be damage to your home or elsewhere on your property, to your vehicle, or to a commercial property you own or lease.
For homeowners, now is a good time to review your homeowners insurance to be sure you have adequate coverage. Your agent will be able to help you identify any areas of concern that are relevant to you.
For example, it’s a common misconception that flood insurance is included in any homeowners insurance policy when that isn’t always the case. It may need to be purchased separately. There may be a waiting period before coverage starts, so if a storm is approaching, it may be too late to purchase that type of supplemental insurance coverage. Since we do experience flash flooding here from time to time, it’s wise to talk to your agent about it.
The same holds true for auto insurance; it’s important to be aware of the coverage your policy provides.
Hail is a major culprit of varying degrees of damage caused to personal property, totaling more than $1 billion each year.
For damage to your vehicle, the cost of repair or the value if totaled will typically be covered by your auto insurance policy, but not always. If you carry comprehensive coverage, you’re highly likely to be financially safeguarded while if you have the basic auto liability coverage, that won’t be the case.
If you’re the unfortunate victim of hail damage to your vehicle and a trip to the body shop to get it repaired is in your future, it’s important to remember that you can select whichever one you feel most comfortable with to get the job done.
If your repairs involve an insurance claim or someone else is paying for the repair, Nebraska state laws dictate that you may select a repairer of your choosing. Instead of allowing the insurer to choose one for you, it’s wise to have one in mind that you’ll use in the event that a storm damages your vehicle.
Choosing a reputable repair facility that will work for you and your best interests will most always lead to a positive experience. By “shopping around” for a repair facility before you need one, you’ll be in a better position to make that decision when you are not rushed or in a panic. Ask friends, family, and associates for their recommendations. Even in this modern high-tech era, old-fashioned word-of-mouth reputation is still extremely valuable. Always try to visit the shop before making the decision on who will repair your vehicle. Look for a neat, well-organized facility with modern equipment. Most vehicle manufacturers recommend specific repair procedures and equipment for the repair of their vehicles. Ensure that the facility you choose is trained in these procedures and has the proper equipment. Look for signs of professionalism in the customer service area: civic and community service awards, memberships in local and national industry organizations, Better Business Bureau signage, customer service awards, etc. Ask if the staff is technically trained and competent, expect to see certificates including vehicle manufacturer training, paint manufacturer training, training from I-CAR (the Inter-Industry ASE Conference on Auto Collision Repair, and certifications—a national standard of technician competence issued by the non-profit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).
“You have to make an informed decision about who to use,” emphasizes Nate Newcomer with ReNu Auto Services. “There are many options when deciding who to trust to perform hail damage repair. Our job is to give you the knowledge you need to make a good decision. The reality is that there is no way of knowing how good a company or technician is without doing a lot of checking. Cracked paint is the biggest risk of using an unknown shop or tech. The required temperature for this procedure is at least 68 degrees. If you go any lower than this the paint cracks very easily. Working in a tent outside in winter is just asking for cracked paint, which is common practice for traveling “storm chasers.”
Do the companies that travel the country chasing storms have your best interest in mind? Imagine not noticing a poor repair until days later when they have already packed up and headed out. We are a local business that stands behind every vehicle we fix. We have been fixing hail damage for individuals and new and used car dealers in Lincoln and surrounding areas for more than 15 years. We take pride in what we do and will always be available with a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee.
At ReNu Auto Services, we offer paintless dent repair performed by our professional technicians. From door dings to major hail damage, we can get your car or truck back to looking as good as the day you bought it.”
As far as the most common questions he’s asked and the answers to those, Newcomer offered the following information:
How does paintless dent repair work? “The process involves accessing the backside of the panel and pushing the dent up a little bit at a time, using special tools and a lot of training. An accomplished technician can see movement under the panel the size of a sharpened pencil tip.”
Won’t this make my insurance cost go up or get me canceled as a policyholder? “Insurance companies are not allowed to raise rates for any one person or family because of what is called ‘an act of God.’ Hailstorms fall into this designation. If they were to raise rates, they would do so for everyone in your zip code. If you hit a tree with your car that could be your fault, but if there was a storm that caused a tree to fall on your car, it wouldn’t be your fault. Similarly, you didn’t cause the hailstorm. Not submitting a claim only helps the insurance company.”
What if my insurance check is too low to cover the cost of repairs? “If this happens, we will be able to get the extra amount required from your insurance company. This is called a supplement. The only amount you will be responsible for is the deductible.”
As far as any precautions you could take to avoid hail damage, he advises, “Of course, the best thing you can do is park inside a garage. Other options are placing blankets on your vehicle prior to the storm.
Covered parking can save you a lot of hassle and money, especially in the middle of the country. If you don’t have this currently, it’s a home improvement that’s worth looking into or you can purchase a standalone awning or ‘carport,’ but chances are it won’t withstand the high winds. Consider it an investment that will benefit you by protecting your vehicle from the elements while adding to the value of your home too.
If you don’t have access to covered parking, another option is to find temporary shelter and ride out the hail storm. Although by that time, the damage is likely already done.
Be safe this spring, Lincoln!”
As for a storm that’s caused damage to your home, it’s equally important to select a contractor to perform the repairs who you can trust and has a good reputation locally, as previously recommended.
In the wake of a bad storm that’s caused serious damage to properties in your area, if you find yourself as one of those property owners who will be needed the services of a contractor, again, beware of “storm chasers.”
These are people who present themselves as experienced contractors representing a company you’ve likely never heard of from out of the market who blanket the area with the sole intention of profiting as much as possible off of the situation using any means possible without any regard for the best interests of the property owners. Be careful, because sometimes they may actually pick a name that seems familiar in the community, too. Scams that have been documented included tactics like using what appears to be a local name – here that might be something that includes “Big Red” or “Heartland’s Finest.” This causes confusion because there are many established companies with upstanding reputations that have very similar names, so they blend in. Likewise, they may alter an established business name slightly, like “Striking Business,” counting on people not taking a closer look to realize it’s not “Strictly Business.”
It’s also important for businesses to beware of storm chasers who try to strike temporary partnership deals. You may have someone stop by and offer to do significant advertising of the company in exchange for a share of the business it brings in. It may seem like a great deal to pay nothing to get your name out there on the radio and on billboards, but when all is said and done, it can end up destroying the reputation of the company if the work is done poorly. At the end of the day, they will also be the ones who remain in the market where the customers are and are left on the hook for any follow-up work that’s required resulting from the use of cheap materials and shoddy repairs.
Storm chasers will come right to your door to solicit your business, using high-pressure sales tactics to get you to sign agreements or to let them perform an inspection.
Most commonly occurring, if allowed to replace your roof, you’re in real trouble for a host of nightmarish reasons including cheap materials, poor workmanship, no warranty, or being completely scammed for money up front with no work performed at all.
Be sure to do your research and select an established company; one that’s local is ideal. Also, check out their rating with the Better Business Bureau, online reviews, references, etc. Call your insurance company first to have an estimator come out and validate any suspected damage. Then, once your insurance company has validated damage and given you a quote, you can reach out to a reputable contractor and schedule an appointment with them to get an estimate, which is generally free. That company should be able to explain all of the details thoroughly in person, will be there for you every step of the way during the process, and will still be there if you need them in the future.
“When your home has been hit by a hail storm, you might have to call your insurance company to file a claim,” says Matt Preister with Xcel Roofing. “Instead of dreading the process of getting the necessary repair work done, let us help you out. As exterior experts, our team has over 30 years of experience dealing with insurance claims and we can provide repair or replacement of your roof, gutters, siding, and windows. We’ll take the time to ensure you learn as much about the process as you want and guide you through each step. Our goal is to get you the maximum amount you’re due under the terms and conditions of your insurance policy.
When selecting a contractor, it’s important to work with someone who is an experienced professional, who you can rely on, and who not only performs quality work but also provides excellent customer service. At Xcel Roofing, we feel being well-rounded is important. We’re passionate about improving our communities, our customers are our priority and we want to exceed their expectations.”
In agreement as it applies to window damage and replacement, Gary Shunkwiler with Heartland of Nebraska Windows notes, “Typically, when a homeowner has been hit by severe weather that has damaged their windows, they tend to be in ‘panic mode.’ Unfortunately, because of the urgency, stress, or lack of understanding as to the differences between window companies and their products, they will usually just go with the first window company through the door. You’ll definitely want to work with a reputable company, and preferably a locally owned company in your area. It’s not a bad idea to get several bids, either.
When severe weather damages existing windows to residential homes, we are able to work with the homeowner as well as the insurance company in getting those windows replaced as fast as possible. The best way to handle replacing your damaged windows is to set up an appointment with us to look at your windows, prepare an estimate for replacement windows, and work with your insurance company if necessary.”
He also offers a few other recommendations. “Choose a high-quality vinyl window with a lifetime warranty on every part of the window. As far as price goes, every window company sets their own pricing structure. It’s not uncommon for companies to take advantage of the homeowner’s situation and try to get as much as they can out of them, knowing that the insurance company is paying the bill. If it’s not something that you think you want or need, ask questions to determine the reasoning behind the recommendations. If you still feel that way, be firm on your stance to decline.
Finally, the installation process that is used by the window company can vary as well. The majority of companies install what is known as ‘pockets’ or ‘inserts.’ These just simply sit on top of the existing window framing. The best and only true way to install replacement windows is to go all the way down to the original ‘rough opening,’ or down to the ‘studs,’ which is the process we use. This way you can properly insulate and seal the window against air and water infiltration. You will also have more ‘glass space’ to look through and the windows look like they were original to when the house was constructed.
Heartland of Nebraska Windows is a locally, family owned and operated distributor for Heartland Windows, based out of Aplington, Iowa. With an exceptional reputation with the BBB and our customers, we provide the highest quality triple-pane windows and patio doors at an affordable price. We strictly adhere to a code of professionalism that starts with the initial contact and lasts all the way through the installation and final walk-through by the owner.”
Hopefully we won’t have much to worry about in the way of damage caused by severe weather this year. However, that’s probably wishful thinking, so just to be on the safe side, be prepared accordingly.
By utilizing the knowledge, experience, and services of our local professionals, you’ll be in good hands.