Five Tips for Your Next Minor Home Disaster

Doc's note: Today we're featuring another issue from my researcher, Amanda Cuocci. This time, she's sharing a story about a minor home disaster and how you can prepare for the worst.


I knew something was wrong as soon as I walked into my kitchen.

Instead of a clear view into the backyard from our windows, all I saw were leaves. Specifically, heavy tree branches. I couldn't open our back door. Upstairs, thick foliage blocked our windows.

We live in a row house with a small backyard, and have plenty of shade from big trees both on our property and in my neighbor's yard. During a recent rainstorm, one of those trees cracked and fell, completely covering the back of our house, the back porch, and half of our yard.

You can see what the back of our house looked like after the tree fell and then after we removed the tree.

The following hours proved stressful, to say the least. Calls to the electric company, our insurance company, and more took hours.

This disaster made me stop and think... Here at Retirement Millionaire Daily, we've written about preparing for big disasters... things like hurricanes and massive, country-wide power outages.

But what about little disasters? Tree limbs and hail cost thousands of dollars' worth of property damage each year, not to mention inflict physical injuries on folks.

Even if you haven't thought about it before, it pays to plan ahead for these types of small disasters. In fact, good preparation will help for any type of minor disaster – basement floods, hail damage, burst pipes, and more.

Here are five tips I learned from this experience to help get you started:

1) Understand what your homeowner's insurance will or will not cover. A good idea is to call your insurance company and ask if they have a list of recommended contractors for things like tree removal and hail damage. Hiring one of those folks after an incident can save you a few headaches.

And keep in mind, if the tree is physically on your house, your electric company may not remove any part of it to free your power lines. That's an issue with liability. You'll still want to contact them to shut off any live power lines before the tree removal happens.

One thing I didn't realize... if a tree falls on your property, it's your responsibility to take care of it. Even if you don't own that tree.

That's because a tree falling from storms or other natural events is out of your neighbor's control. So he isn't liable for damage.

However, your insurance company could hold your neighbor liable if he's demonstrated negligence... Say it's a dying tree starting to split, and you've asked him to take care of it. Document these conversations. Then if he doesn't follow through and the tree falls, your insurance company could hold him liable.

This leads to our next point...

2) Get to know your neighbors. Having a name and phone number for your closest neighbors is crucial for problems like this.

I had the unfortunate experience of trying to track down the current property manager for a foreclosed house. I wanted them to know their power had to be shut off and there was visible damage to their back porch. I finally reached the realtor handling the sale, but save yourself the stress and keep an updated list of neighbors' names and numbers.

On the same note, creating good relationships will help facilitate conversations about taking preventive action for any overgrown or dying trees.

3) Take photos before there's a problem. Now that I've experienced this headache, I plan on taking photos of my property before the next disaster. That way the next time something happens, we can compare photos to better estimate what damage we might be facing.

4) Take inventory. A good tip from many insurance companies will help no matter what the disaster... Make sure to list out all major appliances, their age, and their warranty info. It'll be handy to have it all in one place should your hot-water heater blow or furnace die.

List your possessions, their age, and approximate value (with receipts, if possible). Make sure you have a copy you can reach easily and send a copy to a trusted relative or your insurance representative. That'll alleviate the stress of having to file a police report for a robbery or an insurance claim for a fire or flood.

5) Make sure your emergency fund is up to date. Along with understanding your insurance policy, plan to have enough in savings to cover the deductible. You can read more about the importance of an emergency fund right here.

Preparing for the worst means less stress and a clear plan of action when disaster strikes. Learn more about preparing for major weather events, blackouts, health scares, and financial crises in The Doctor's Protocol Field Manual, available with a subscription to Retirement Millionaire. Click here to get your electronic copy today.

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Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,

Dr. David Eifrig and Amanda Cuocci
Baltimore, Maryland
September 14, 2017