If you think you have a tree that is at risk, he suggests hiring an arborist. Many tree removal services have them, but you should make sure you're talking to an arborist versus just a guy with a chainsaw, Spencer warns.
And how much will this run you? It can easily cost several hundred dollars. Most companies charge based on the height of the tree, with a set price per foot. The taller the tree, the more damage to your wallet.
"Many arborists will come out and give you a consultation for free or a low cost," Spencer says, adding that homeowners can sometimes get a discount if they hire an arborist through a service that partners with the insurance company.
Clean your gutters. So easy to forget about, those boring metal tubes that came with the house – that is, until you start having water issues. Even then you may not think about your gutters, if you aren't aware of the problems that can come from not cleaning them out.
"Though gutters are attached to your roof, their primary function is to protect siding, lawn and foundation. One of the biggest risks of not cleaning out gutters is basement damage," says Amy Matthews, a home improvement expert for Home Advisor, an online portal that matches homeowners with licensed home contractors for free (homeadvisor.com).
She adds: "Dirty gutters can also ruin your roof or attic. Particularly, downspouts that have formed dams can cause water to back up into your sub-roofing just as easily as down the side of your home."
The average cost of cleaning out gutters, if you hire a professional, according to Home Advisor: $181.
Inspect your basement. Spencer says it's critical to have a battery backup sump pump system, especially if you have a finished basement or one filled with boxes of heirlooms or important papers. All you need is to have a power outage for several hours during or after a major rainstorm to see why.
After the storm. As soon as feasible, call your insurance company to report the damage, and take photos for your insurance adjustor, Matthews says.
Depending on what havoc is going in your house, your yard, or your neighbor's house and yard, you might be surprised about how things work out. Generally, if your tree falls into a neighbor's yard and crushes his SUV, your neighbor's policy will be on the hook for the damages. That said, everyone should call their respective insurance policies and let the insurance companies hash it out, Spencer says.
If you're able to make any temporary repairs to your damaged home – without risking injury – most insurers will tell you that's perfectly fine, even if an adjustor hasn't come out yet. In other words, if you have a hole in the side of your house, and you want to board it up to keep raccoons, mice or other wildlife from moving in, go right ahead – but only if you can do so safely.
And safety, of course, is always paramount before and after any storm. Your house may be the most expensive item you own, but it's not the most important. If you want to patch a hole in your roof on your own but don't know if the roof is stable, keep in mind that should a misstep occur, you or your family might end up having to consult your health insurance policy, or worse, your life insurance policy – and nobody wants that.