Storm clouds approaching on the horizon.

Insurance Checklist for Severe Weather

Updated June 1, 2018 . AmFam Team

Severe weather can be jarring for a variety of reasons — but one of them shouldn’t be your insurance coverage. Take a look at our checklist for preparing yourself and your policies in case severe weather does damage your property.

Preparing your home insurance policy for severe weather.


When severe weather strikes, the first thing on your mind should be the safety of the people you love. And when forces of nature threaten your home and the things you own, you shouldn’t be worried — because you’ve already prepared your insurance policies for any damage that might occur.

Here are some steps you can take long before a storm hits to protect your property.

Insurance Coverage for Storm Damage

To start, it’s important to know how your home insurance policy protects you from different types of damage caused by storms. There are a variety of coverages that your home insurance policy is equipped with to protect your home:

Dwelling coverage. If your home faces damage from a storm, dwelling coverage pays to repair or rebuild your home.

Other structures coverage. If damage from a storm occurred to detached structures on your property, like a shed, garage, gazebo or fence, your other structures coverage will help cover the cost to repair or rebuild them.

Personal property coverage. Sometimes storm damage is so severe, like from a tornado or wind, it can cause damage to the personal property in your home. Personal property coverage covers your personal belongings, including furniture, clothing and appliances, if they’re damaged or destroyed.

Loss of use coverage. Also known as additional living expense, loss of use coverage pays for additional living expenses if your home is uninhabitable after a storm. You’ll learn more about this below.

Home Inventory List for Insurance

Your personal property coverage protects the belongings in your home from damage caused by a storm, and having a home inventory of your belongings will make filing a claim a lot easier. Take photos of your things and save them to a computer, flash drive or somewhere you can easily access them, electronically or physically. Include items that might be in other buildings on your property, like a shed or a garage. You can also take inventory of your belongings using this helpful checklist (Opens in a new tab).


In order to make certain that your personal items and the buildings they’re in are properly protected, speak with your insurance agent. Even if you don’t own your home, you can still protect what’s inside of it with American Family renters insurance (Opens in a new tab). While you won’t need coverage to protect the building you live in, you can cover the costs of replacing your treasured possessions that make your rental space your home.

Review Your Homeowners Insurance

Your home is most likely the most expensive thing you own, so make sure you have insured it for what it would cost to rebuild. If your home would need to be completely rebuilt, you’d probably want it to be the same size and have the same features. If it’s not properly insured, you could be risking taking on the financial and emotional toll of having to rebuild a lesser home.

Take the time to set up a personal insurance review with your agent and learn what you need to do to better protect your home.

Know What You’re Covered For

Fully understanding your insurance policies can reduce your stress before, during and after a storm. No one wants to play the hectic mind game of “am I covered?”, so contact your agent, get copies of your policies and walk through your coverages. You can get basic information on types of weather-related coverage here, but your agent can give you pinpoint specifics on your personal coverages.

Rental car reimbursement coverage. Preparing for a severe weather event doesn’t just include your homeowners policy — your vehicle could be damaged, too. And if it is, you might need a car to get your kids to school and get you to work while it’s in the shop. Ask your American Family agent about rental car reimbursement coverage so you don’t get stuck with a huge rental car bill while your car is out of commission.

Power outages. If the power goes out, you could be stuck with spoiled food in your refrigerator. This is built into your homeowners coverage and will help you re-fill your fridge when the power comes back on.

Living expenses. In more serious cases, you might not be able to live in your home while it’s undergoing repairs. Whether you’re staying with family or in a hotel, your policy includes loss of use coverage, which means you’re eligible to receive additional living expenses to cover the increased costs that are a result of your home being uninhabitable. Speak with your American Family Insurance agent to see where your limit stands, and if you should increase it.

Other Types of Severe Weather Coverage

Thunder, lightning and heavy winds aren’t the only types of severe weather. Many different versions of Mother Nature’s worst can cause turbulence in your life. Consider discussing the following severe weather events with your agent to see if any additional types of coverage are worth considering.

Flooding. Flood insurance is not included in your homeowner’s policy, but it can happen almost anywhere — consider looking into purchasing a flood insurance policy to make sure you’re prepared, no matter how unlikely a flood might seem.

Ice, sleet and snow. In addition to the havoc these three cold weather villains can wreak on roadways, they sometimes do damage elsewhere. Whether snow collapses a roof, or the cold freezes your pipes, potential damage from these types of incidents are covered by your homeowners policy.

Understand Your Home Insurance Deductible

Your deductible is the amount of money you’ll pay prior to your policy paying to fix your damages, so you’ll want to keep at least that amount handy in case something happens. Discuss the specifics with your agent so you don’t have any surprises when you make your claim.

Learn the Claims Process

The better you know the claims process, the smoother and less stressful it’ll be! The sooner you make your claim, the quicker our claims team can get on site and assess the damage, and the faster you can get your life back to normal. Talk with your agent today about properly protecting the things that matter most to you.

Your American Family Insurance agent can help you prepare for the worst that weather brings — contact your agent today (Opens in a new tab) to make sure your policies are set to protect what matters most.

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    Windshield Repair & Replacement Insurance Coverage

    Rocks and gravel, damage from weather and even temperature changes are all common causes of a cracked, broken or chipped windshield. It might surprise you that repairing a cracked windshield is actually a pretty simple fix — as long as you take care of it right away. Because what may seem like a small, insignificant crack at first could turn into a bigger, more expensive problem if left unrepaired.

    We know the question you want answers to: Will my insurance cover windshield repair and replacement? The short answer is yes, with some minor stipulations. We’ve highlighted some key information about windshield repair and replacement to help you understand how your insurance helps cover these small but impactful damages.

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    Do I need a repair or a replacement?

    Did you know that a small chip or crack reduces the strength of a windshield by up to 70%?* And eventually those small cracks spread into larger cracks that just might require a full replacement (which means more money out of your pocket). Getting your chip or crack repaired right away helps preserve the structural integrity of the windshield, which is a critical safety feature of your vehicle, and almost always prevents damage from spreading into a more costly replacement.

    To determine if your windshield needs a simple repair or a full-on replacement, you’ll need to identify what kind of damage exists. For example, if you have a small break, like a half-moon, bullseye, star or combination, you’ll typically be able to get a quick repair — which usually only takes about 30 minutes to fix.

    Here’s a list of common types of cracks:

    Chip or ding. Usually, small chips or dings are caused by a rock or other hard object hitting the windshield and taking out a small chunk of glass. Though small and usually not impeding your line of sight, a chip or ding could eventually spread and require a full windshield replacement. So, take the time to get it repaired right away!

    Bullseye. A bullseye crack looks just like its name — and it’s usually one of the most common types of windshield damage. The good news is it’s one of the most repairable kinds of cracks.

    Stress crack. A stress crack occurs when your windshield is exposed to extreme variations in temperature in a short amount of time. For instance things like extreme or swift temperature changes like cranking up the A/C or heat can cause a chip to expand into a larger crack, or if you put hot water on your ice-covered windshield, a stress crack may form.

    Edge and floater crack. An edge crack is formed near the edge of your windshield, whereas a floater crack is near the center of the windshield. These kinds of cracks usually cover a large area of your windshield and will need a full replacement. Over time, all the bumps and other impacts that occur during driving can cause the edge or floater crack to worsen.

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    Does my insurance cover windshield replacement or repair?

    Insurance coverage for windshield replacement or repair depends on what type of coverage you have and the extent of the damage.

    If your windshield is damaged in a car accident, your collision insurance would cover repairs or replacement, but you’ll be required to pay a deductible, which is the amount you pay before your insurance company steps in.

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    No Deductible Windshield Replacement

    Do you have comprehensive insurance? At American Family Insurance, if your windshield is repaired instead of replaced for a covered comprehensive loss, the deductible is usually waived. Keep in mind that if the windshield needs to be replaced, you’ll still be covered, but a deductible may be applied.

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    How to File a Claim to Replace or Repair Your Windshield

    American Family Insurance offers a glass repair program with our trusted partner, Safelite. With them, we’ll work quickly to get your windshield repaired or replaced so you can get back to more important things.

    Make sure you file a claim before you take your vehicle in for repairs because your agent can help you determine how you’re covered. Remember, a repair usually won’t cost you anything, but a replacement will often require a deductible.

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    File Your Windshield Claim with the MyAmFam App

    File, track, and monitor the status of your claim from your phone with the MyAmFam app.

    Get in touch with our Glass Claims Department at 1-800-MYAMFAM (1-800-692-6326) or conveniently submit a claim online to Safelite.

    Have the following information on hand when submitting your claim to make sure the process goes as quickly and smoothly as possible:

    • Policy number
    • Details about the damage
    • Make, model and year of your vehicle
    • VIN

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    Does a windshield claim increase insurance?

    If you file a windshield claim, your insurance company typically won’t apply a surcharge, which is the rise in your insurance premium. However, if you do frequently file auto repair claims, your company could consider you a high-risk driver, which would cause a hike in your premium.

    Don’t forget to weigh your options when deciding to file a claim. Are you required to pay a deductible? Is the deductible going to cost more than your repairs? If so, maybe consider paying out of pocket for the repairs and avoid adding a claim to your car insurance history.

    At American Family Insurance, we want to make sure you’re confident and know all the ways you’re covered. Your agent is always happy to answer any questions you have about how you’re protected — in the meantime, check out more about our claims process so you know just what to do to keep moving forward when dealing with the unexpected.

    * Source: Belron® Technical, the world's leading vehicle glass research & development organization.

  • Judge sitting at desk with another person.
    Judge sitting at desk with another person.
    Personal Offense Coverage for Homeowners

    You probably have insurance to protect your home, car and health from the unexpected, but have you ever thought about putting protection in place in case you ever face a lawsuit for things like libel and slander? That’s where personal offense coverage comes into play. It’s a lesser known but important coverage available to add to your home insurance policy. Not sure what this coverage means? We’re here to help.

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    What is a personal injury endorsement?*

    Your home insurance financially protects you from many unexpected incidents, whether you’re at your home or away from it. But personal offense coverage doesn’t fall under the realm of protection provided by your standard homeowners policy. Insurance for personal offense is actually an additional coverage you can purchase on your homeowners insurance that’ll help protect you against personal offense allegations.

    A personal injury certainly sounds like an injury that happens to you or even to another person — in fact, this type of insurance can often be confused with bodily injury or personal liability insurance. But, while bodily injury or personal liability insurance covers things like medical bills and legal fees if a guest is injured on your property, personal offense coverage covers something much different.

    Personal offense insurance covers things like:

    • Libel and/or slander
    • False arrest, detention or imprisonment
    • Malicious prosecution
    • Wrongful eviction or wrongful entry
    • Associated legal costs

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    Do you need to add a personal injury endorsement to your home insurance policy?

    In today’s world, social media is more prevalent than ever. With the touch of a button, you (or your kids) can tweet, blog or post just about anything for just about anyone to view — which is why personal offense insurance is so important. Consider what would happen if someone sued you for a slanderous tweet you posted about them. Without personal offense coverage, defense costs and potential settlement fees will come right out of your own pocket.

    Or let’s say you rent out your basement apartment to a tenant, and you entered into the apartment without their knowledge. Harmless as this may seem, your tenant sues you for wrongful entry. Having personal offense protection can help cover resulting legal fees.*

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    What doesn’t personal offense insurance cover?*

    Though personal offense coverage can help you in instances where you’re in trouble for libel or slander, it doesn’t mean you should go ahead and say or write defamatory statements. Just as your other home insurance coverages have limitations, a personal injury endorsement also has exclusions and limitations on what it’ll cover. For instance, if you knew what you were doing was wrong or what you did was illegal, you likely wouldn’t be covered.

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    What does personal offense insurance cost?

    Adding a personal injury endorsement to your homeowners insurance policy is rather affordable — typically adding only a few dollars a year to your premium. Personal offense coverage is an inexpensive option that’ll pay off if you or a family member face a lawsuit.

    Contact your American Family Insurance agent to learn more about adding personal injury insurance to your homeowners insurance policy. Want an easy way to access your insurance information? Log in or sign up for My Account, where you can view your insurance info, file a claim, pay your bills and much more. Even better? You can do it all from the MyAmFam app. Download it today.


      


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    What Is Homeowners Liability Insurance?

    Accidents happen, and as a homeowner, you, your children or your pets can be held responsible for injuries to people in or outside your home or damage to other people’s property. The good news is your policy can give you financial protection against covered liability claims.

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    What Personal Liability Insurance Covers*

    Your homeowners insurance provides both property and liability protection. Property insurance protects the structure of your home (dwelling coverage) and your belongings (personal property coverage). And personal liability coverage protects you if you’re legally responsible for damage to someone’s property, or if you accidentally injure someone whether you’re at home or away from it.

    How exactly does personal liability insurance protect you? Let’s break it down.

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    Injury on Your Property

    If someone is injured on your property, your personal liability insurance helps pay for their medical bills and other potential costs. For example, if the injury resulted from your neglect — like failing to repair a broken banister — you may even be sued. And if you’re found liable, liability coverage within your homeowners policy may help protect your finances if legal expenses result.

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    Negligent Acts of Children and Others

    Let’s say your children are kicking a soccer ball in the yard and they accidentally kick it through your neighbor’s window. Fortunately, even though it wasn’t your own home that was damaged, if accidental damage occurs to someone else’s property by a member of your household, the liability portion of your homeowners insurance helps provide protection against associated costs from the accident.

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    Dog Bites

    Whether out walking Fido or playing in your yard, the liability portion of your homeowners insurance policy will typically help provide protection if your dog bites a person or another animal. Keep in mind, not all dogs will meet the criteria to be included under your policy. Connect with your agent to check if your dog is eligible and learn more about the limits of the liability coverage. Here’s a closer look at homeowners insurance and dogs.

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    What Personal Liability Insurance Doesn’t Cover

    Though it’s important to know the many ways in which personal liability insurance protects you, it’s also important to understand what it doesn’t cover.

    This coverage is designed to protect you if you accidentally injure or damage the property of a guest, neighbor or anyone who isn’t a member of your household. And it’s not an alternative or supplement to your health insurance. For instance, if you or a family member are injured in your home, your personal liability coverage won’t cover resulting medical bills — that’s what your health insurance is for.

    Also, if you or a family member intentionally cause harm to someone, you won’t be able to depend on your personal liability coverage for financial protection.

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    Home Insurance Liability Coverage Amounts*

    Like any coverage, your personal liability coverage offers protection up to your policy limit, which is the capped amount your insurance company pays in the event of a claim. You’ll choose your coverage limit when creating your policy, and any expense that extends beyond your limit will come out of your pocket. The good news is you can increase your coverage.

    For extra protection and added peace of mind, umbrella insurance provides an additional layer of liability coverage above your policy limit, so you won’t have to dig into your own savings in the event of a substantial claim.

    For example, we mentioned that personal liability coverage helps cover you if your dog injures someone — which is an important protection to have in place. But a dog bite claim can often surpass your personal liability coverage limit. Having umbrella insurance provides an additional layer of protection should a claim exceed the liability limits you selected within your homeowners policy and helps protect your assets.

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    Remember, costs can vary depending on the amount of coverage you’re looking for. That’s why your best bet is to connect with your American Family agent to discuss policy amounts and limits — they’ll help customize your policy to ensure you have the right limits for your unique needs.

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    Why Did My Homeowners Insurance Go Up?

    A lot of thought went into the purchase of your home. Its amenities, location, and overall design played an important role when you made the decision to place an offer on the house. Many of those same traits and features are referenced when an insurance company puts together a homeowners quote. And there are other key factors that they use to determine the cost of your premium.

    If you’re wondering “why did my homeowners insurance go up?” you’re not alone. It can be surprising to learn that your rates have increased. It may be because your property’s becoming more valuable than it was a year ago. Or maybe you invested in an addition, boosting your home’s worth. Or did you file a claim on your home sometime last year? There’s a lot to learn — when homeonwers insurance increases every year, it’s important to understand why.