After the Storm, What Exactly Does Your Insurance Cover?

The three-week series of storms has caused damage all across California. As communities start to clean up, people want to know if their insurance covers the damage.

“We’ve been busy,” said Bernardo Vasquez, a State Farm agent in Chula Vista. “We’ve probably seen a 100% increase in our call volume.”

Vasquez said there’s always an increase after a bad storm, but the last few weeks are the worst he’s seen.

“Customers are asking us, ‘What do I do? I have water in my house, my roof is leaking, it’s raining right now,” said Vasquez.

What does your insurance cover?

First, figure out what coverage you have, because flood insurance is different than your regular home insurance policy.

“Flood is when water is on the ground and seeps into your home,” said Vasquez. “It’s what we’re seeing a lot of in Mission Valley and San Ysidro.”

He said a lot of homes don’t have flood insurance, but other damage caused directly by the storm itself might be covered.

“For example if your roof leaks, or a tree falls on your house,” said Vasquez.

It would also include any damage from the wind as well.

If a neighbor’s tree falls, is it their fault?

This would vary from case to case. Vasquez said your insurance would be the primary coverage, and if you file a claim with your neighbor’s insurance, you would likely need to prove that they were negligent, which led to the tree falling during the storm.

What about your car insurance?

Vasquez said if your car is damaged by flood water, falling trees, or something else, that’s when a comprehensive coverage policy — which is separate from collision coverage — would help.

What do you do?

If you need to file a claim because your home, property, or car is damaged, here’s what Vasquez recommends you do:

  1. Try to stop future damage. If the problem is caused by water, are you able to stop it or redirect the water?
  2. Take pictures and videos of everything. Documenting the damage and problems can help during the claims process.
  3. Contact your insurance company as soon as possible.

How long will it take?

There are thousands of claims already filed, with more being received each day. State Farm has declared a catastrophe in California, which Vasquez said will help them direct resources to receiving and processing new claims as quickly as possible.

“Customers are getting in accidents, roofs are leaking, businesses are leaking, that’s very typical,” said Vasquez. “But this weather event is substantially stronger than anything I’ve seen in the past.”

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