The storm has passed. You go outside to assess the damage. Except for a few limbs knocked loose and leaves everywhere, everything seems okay. But, is it really? Damage does not always show on the outside of a building. Hidden or structural damage can lurk behind the walls or beneath the roof. And, unless you fix that damage, it could cause further problems.
Look for Signs of Hidden Damage
Here are some signs that your place of business may have sustained hidden/structural damage during the storm.
- New cracks in the foundation
- Most foundations will develop hairline cracks over time as the house settles. However, if those hairline cracks sudden start to widen after a storm, there may be deeper problems than mere building settling. If the building has a foundation that is backed into a hillside, look for horizontal cracks. This can indicate that the pressure of the hillside could be pushing the building off the foundation.
- Check the roofline
- Certain walls in your business are designed to carry the load of the roof down, through the structure, to the foundation. If the structure has sustained structural damage, those load-bearing walls may have shifted in the process. One way this kind of damage will show up is through the ridgeline, or top, of the roof. It should be straight. If it is sagging on either end, or swaying in the middle, there may be a shift in the load-bearing walls.
- Look for signs of dampness on the underside of your roof
- Hail is a leading cause of damage to roofs. But, sometimes, that damage is not obvious. The roofing material may seem okay from the surface, but damage could be lurking below. Get into the attic space and check for signs of moisture on the underside of the sheathing.
- Open and close all the doors and windows in the home
- If your business has started to shift off the foundation, or part of the foundation is failing, it will start to bring the walls out of alignment. One of the first signs this is happening will be sticking doors and windows. Opening and closing each one will tell you if there is any shift occurring.
- Identify bulges in the wall
- The surface of your home’s walls should be fairly straight from the ceiling line down to the floor. If there is damage within the wall, it may put pressure against the drywall or plaster, causing a bulge. At first, it will be only a slight one. But, as pressure builds, the bulge will grow. Eventually, the plaster or drywall will begin to fail.
What To Do
What should you do if you suspect there is hidden damage lurking somewhere in your business’s building? The first step is to bring in an expert who can find the damage without taking down your walls. A public insurance adjuster is the perfect person for the job.
If your commercial property sustained damage during a storm, it should be covered by your insurance. The first thing the insurance company will do when you file the claim is send out an adjuster. Don’t make the mistake of thinking the insurance adjuster is going to assess for hidden/structural damage. That person will look for visible damage. If there is no obvious visible damage, the insurance company’s adjuster will deny the claim. If there is visible damage, the insurance adjuster will only recommend paying that, and not even consider potential hidden damage.
This is where having a public adjuster at your side comes in. A public adjuster does not work for the insurance company. He works for you. This adjuster will listen to what you have to say and then go to work doing in in-depth investigation. He can bring in sophisticated equipment to check for structural and water damage behind walls and in other inaccessible areas of your home.
By the end of the public adjuster’s investigation, you will know if you have hidden damage. And then your adjuster can present your claim to the insurance company.
If you even suspect that a storm has caused hidden or structural damage to your business, call Commercial Claim Pro. Their professional public adjuster can get your claim on track quickly, so you can get back in business as soon as possible.
Photo Paul L Dineen | Used under Creative Commons image attribution license 2.0