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What to do if you have property damage after severe weather

"There should be no delays in making sure people get back on their feet after a disaster," said Michael Soller, with the California Department of Insurance.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Severe weather in the Sacramento area has caused power outages, fallen trees, and property damage.

Those who woke up to serious wreckage to their home or cars may be wondering what to do. ABC10 spoke with a couple of insurance experts who provided a few tips.

First things first, evacuate if authorities ask you to, said Janet Ruiz, director of strategic communications for the Insurance Information Institute.

"Your life and safety of your family is the most important thing," she said. 

Michael Soller, deputy insurance commissioner for the California Department of Insurance, said people need to think about their homeowners/renters insurance and auto insurance. 

"Homeowners insurance does cover storm damage -- such as a tree falling on your roof or a fence fallen down due to wind," Soller said. "If you have that kind of damage, the first step is to be in touch with your agent who sold you the policy."

Soller also said homeowners insurance will protect against damage from any future mudslide or similar disaster that is caused by recent wildfires that weakened hillsides. 

"A homeowners or commercial policy usually excludes floods, mudslides, debris flows... unless they're caused by a recent wildfire," he said. "Commissioner Lara...said all the warning signs are there and if that happens, then those should be covered."

He also said renters should have their own policies to cover any personal possessions.

"A lot of people don't realize that their landlord's policy doesn't cover them, it covers the house. It doesn't cover the tenant or their personal possessions," Soller said.  

A comprehensive car insurance policy also comes in handy after severe weather. 

"Your basic liability that's required to drive does not cover you for storm damage... If you don't have comprehensive coverage, it's a good time to contact your agent and see if it makes sense for you," he said.

Ruiz said people with homeowners insurance may have what's called "additional living expenses" to cover any money spent if they have to leave their home after severe weather or a natural disaster. She also advised taking photos of any damage to document losses.  

"Keep the receipts for all of that," she said. "The most timely thing you can do is to get your claim to your insurance company."

Soller said there should be no delays in making sure people get back on their feet after a disaster. 

"That's what insurance is for: to start rebuilding quickly and without a lot of hassles," he said.

Read more from ABC10


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