You’re sitting at home one night when suddenly you hear a huge crash coming from the other room. You rush over to investigate and discover that a massive storm has blown a large tree branch right through your front window, shattering glass everywhere. Well this is just great. As you stare blankly at the destruction and the rain pouring in, you find yourself wondering – does my homeowners’ insurance actually cover something like this?
This is a question many homeowners have when faced with damaged windows, especially after intense weather events like hail storms or tornados. The answer though is…well it depends. Home insurance policies can be tricky, so let’s break this down together.
What Perils Does Homeowners’ Insurance Typically Cover?
When deciding what a home insurance policy covers, insurance companies make a distinction between “named perils” and “open perils”.
Named perils refers to specific disasters listed in your policy document that they’ll cover, like fire, lightning, explosions.
Open perils on the other hand covers all causes of loss except for what’s directly excluded. This is much more broad coverage.
Over 50% of homeowners opt for open peril policies just to avoid nasty surprises. But even these have some standard exclusions for things like earthquakes, floods, war, and wear and tear damage.
As for windows specifically, damage from weather events like hail, storms with high winds and airborne debris, severe rain, etc would typically be covered under most standard home insurance policies as well as vandalism, fires, fallen trees, and accidents like a car crashing into your house.
Issues caused by lack of maintenance, old age, or general deterioration overtime would not be covered however. So if the seal on your windows broke down after 20 years causing foggy glass, don’t expect a payout for replacements!
Navigating the Claims Process for Window Damage
Alright, so a big downpour dumped buckets on your house last night and your basement windows started leaking all over. You’re pretty sure it falls under your covered perils, now what?
Start by thoroughly documenting the damage for your insurance records with photos from multiple angles. Be sure to capture any identifying aspects like the window manufacturer sticker too. This comes in handy later.
Next, contact your provider right away to report the incident and get the claims process initiated. Ask what documentation or evidence they require on their end regarding the damage. Things like repair estimates or police reports for vandalism may be needed.
The insurance company will then send out an adjuster to review your claim and assess the window damage first-hand. This is your key opportunity to explain what happened and point out anything that may be overlooked. Don’t be afraid to speak up!
After their visit, you’ll receive a decision on how your claim is being handled. Some providers may offer replacement coverage based on the actual cash value at the time, which accounts for depreciation. Others will cover the full replacement cost value for new windows. This makes a big difference, so understand which type of policy you have!
Getting informed on the ins and outs of the claims process prepares you to better advocate for getting your home windows repaired or replaced when the need arises.
Factors That Impact Claim Approval Odds
Since home insurance policies have particular rules around what damage they cover, claims do still get denied on occasion if the cause is considered an exclusion. Things like floods, earthquakes, negligence, previous undiscovered damage etc. tend to be common denial reasons.
You can greatly help your odds though by having detailed documentation around the incident. Photos dated on the day it occurred, meteorology reports if related to weather conditions, statements from witnesses like neighbors who’s property was also affected. These prove validity when disputed.
Including multiple repair estimates rather than just one can demonstrate an accurate and competitive price point too. And having statements from vendors assessing that the windows couldn’t be repaired vs needing full replacement adds important credibility.
The condition and age of your existing windows does also play a role. If they were already 20+ years old but still functioning fine, the insurance company may push back saying standard lifespan was reached. Make sure to emphasize any well maintained aspects like recently replaced gaskets if relevant.
Just over 20% of policyholders have had a claim denied, so you’re not alone if this happens! Following tips like these stacks things more in your favor however.
Weighing Window Glass vs Complete Window Replacement
Alright, so your insurance claim got approved and you’re ready to move forward with fixing up those battered windows. This may be a good time to weigh whether full window replacement is necessary or if you could get by with just swapping out the glass panes damaged.
Replacing individual glass panels rather than the entire window unit brings the costs way down. We’re talking like $150 per window instead of $800+ in many cases.
Since insurance payouts provide limited funds, paying out of pocket for high quality windows in addition can hit hard. That’s why a lot of folks go the glass only route if feasible.
Just keep in mind potential downsides – partial matches between original windows and new replacements may bother some aesthetically. And any underlying window frame damage could continue worsening.
If high winds ripped a window clean out exposing walls and insulation, glass alone likely won’t cut it. Work closely with your selected repair vendor to decide the best solution.
Choosing a Reputable Contractor
Speaking of repair vendors, the contractor crew you choose makes a world of difference in the quality of home window replacements and installations.
Be selective here! General handymen may seem cheaper but won’t have the specialized expertise needed like custom measurements for energy efficient sealing. Poor workmanship risks having replacement windows fail quicker.
Ask friends and neighbors for referrals on contractors they had good experiences with. Search online reviews mentioning keywords like “storm damage” and “responsive claims handling”.
Once you’ve identified several promising options, interview them thoroughly with questions like:
- How many weather damage window replacements have you done in the past year?
- Do you offer free estimates for materials and labor?
- What manufacturers do you source replacement windows from?
- Do you have references from recent insurance claim customers?
And once you’ve settled on someone, verify that they carry both general liability insurance and workers compensation for subcontractors before project kickoff. This protects you too!
Taking time to carefully select who handles such important home repairs ensures things are done properly. And having a responsive, seasoned contractor in your corner can help expedite insurance approvals as well.
Are Slab Leak Repairs Typically Covered By Homeowners’ Insurance Policies?
Payment and Reimbursement Processes
Alright, so the damage has been thoroughly documented, your claim is approved, bids collected, and contractor hired! You’re likely anxious to get this window situation remedied ASAP at this point.
But before signing agreements or allowing any materials purchases, be absolutely sure to lock down the payment/reimbursement process details with both the insurance provider and your selected window installation company.
Leaving money matters loosely defined until invoices start rolling in leads many homeowners to unexpectedly discover they’re responsible for upfront out-of-pocket costs, even if promised coverage. Get concrete terms in writing early on to dodge this headache!
Some common payment approaches include:
- Direct payment – Insurance company pays contractor directly leaving minimal client burden
- Reimbursement – Homeowner pays for completed work then is reimbursed by insurer
- Advance partial payment – Insurer issues advance payment to contractor covering % of estimated costs
Reimbursement places the highest payment risks on homeowners, plus headaches managing extra steps submitting all documentation needed to get your own money back! Direct or partial advance payment arrangements are vastly preferred.
And if you agree to any contingency where overages beyond the approved insurance claim amount fall to you, determine how these incremental costs will be handled upfront too. Surprise charges delight no one!
Maintaining Oversight From Start to Finish
While nobody welcomes a stressful incident like damaged windows, you can minimize headaches by putting the above guidance into play, getting clear on policy coverage, asking the right clarifying questions, carefully selecting your repair partner, and locking down financial obligations between all parties.
This helps set appropriate expectations while also allowing you to take an assertive oversight role safeguarding your interests every step, whether inspecting initial damage, ensuring proper materials being ordered & delivered onsite, or verifying acceptable quality workmanship until your home’s windows have been duly restored.
Wielding a combination of diligence, patience, and a cooperative spirit with contractors and insurance personnel alike goes far when managing considerable home repairs.
So as you now close this window and window replacement guide, may your newly acquired knowledge serve you well moving forward come what may! We’ll all undoubtedly face sporadic turbulence in life – perhaps quite literally when it comes to home windows in stormy regions. But just remember that calmer skies and uplifting solutions exist on the other side when armed with empowering information.