Will storm damage cause a boost in insurance rates?
LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) – Strong storms with damaging winds last week left behind widespread damage in the La Crosse area and Southern Wisconsin.
County Road B in La Crosse took one of the hardest hits as harsh winds and lightening uprooted trees. Some fell on power lines, igniting small fires. Others fell on homes, causing thousands of dollars in damages.
La Crosse firefighters said no one was injured, but homeowners are now left to clean-up the damage and wait for contractors and insurance companies to come up with estimates.
"It's 5:30 in the morning and you're wondering if your house is going to fall in. I look into the woods and there appears to be a forest fire where the power lines are on fire,” said Don Hill, describing what he saw during last Wednesday's storms.
As he walks through his yard, he knows the damage could be much worse.
"See right there? Kind of in the corner of the roof, (trees) knocked the shingles off,” Hill said. “But for as big as the trees are, we're kind of fortunate, I think."
The roof over his head for 30 years was dented by fallen trees, his windows shattered, and a metal clothes line was broken into pieces after heavy storms ravaged Hill's home.
While he's already met with a claim adjuster, Hill is waiting for to find out what his insurance will pay.
"The insurance part is kind of intimidating but we're just going to see what happens,” Hill said.
Part of that is seeing if there's a rate increase.
"I can't really answer yes or no. Some (insurance companies) may (increase rates) and others may not,” said Mike Burkhardt, an insurance agent for Bluffview Insurance Agency.
He said storm damage is nothing like assessing a burglary or a house fire, since storms aren't preventable.
"It's really an act of God, or the storm itself, and typically those aren't going to be chargeable,” Burkhardt said.
That is companies usually give clients a pass on a rate increase the first time they file a claim for storm damage, according to Burkhardt, unless a large pool of people are affected.
"If there's a lot of storms throughout the state, then more than likely there will be an increase, he added.
Hill hopes client loyalty keeps his rates down.
"We've been with the insurance company ever since we've been here so I would maybe hope not,” Hill said.
But for now, he's just waiting for that estimate, “we'll kinda go from there."
Hill expected his first estimate Monday evening. He said he's just lucky everyone is safe and he's lucky that when his garage was hit – the trees didn't damage either of his cars.
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