A tornado only needs a matter of minutes to damage, destroy, and alter the lives of your entire community.
A single tornado is capable of killing hundreds of people and triggering billions of dollars in insurance claims in a matter of minutes. Do you have the right insurance coverage to help you and your family get back on your feet after one of nature’s most horrific events?
insurancepublicadjustersofgeorgia.com gathered information on tornadoes, which insurance policies cover damages from tornadoes, how to file a claim, and how to respond when you feel the insurance company is underpaying your claim.
Tornado Season and Intensity
Spring is tornado season for many states in the US. Tornado season is the time of year when most tornadoes occur and usually runs from April through June. While some states see much more activity than others, there have been registered tornadoes in all fifty states.
Rated on the Enhanced Fujita scale from 0 to 5, the intensity of a tornado is based on wind speed and the potential damage caused to manmade structures and vegetation. The categories and relative wind speeds are as follows:
EF0 – Wind speeds of 65 to 85mph causing light damages
EF1 – Wind speeds of 86 to 110mph causing moderate damage including blowing moving vehicles off the road.
EF2 – Wind speeds of 111 to 135mph causing considerable damage including snapping large trees, tearing roofs from frame houses, and lifting vehicles.
EF3 – Wind speeds of 136 to 165mph causing severe damage including overturning trains, uprooting trees, and heavy vehicles lifted and thrown.
EF4 – Wind speeds of 166 to 200mph causing devastating damage including houses being completely demolished, structures torn from foundations and thrown, and large items becoming dangerous projectiles.
EF5 – Wind speeds over 200mph causing incredible damage including tearing the bark from trees, well-constructed houses torn from foundations and blown away, and vehicles launched into the air like projectiles.
NOTE: The wind speeds mentioned above may vary within each EF category depending on geographical location and storm intensity. Visit spc.noaa.gov/efscale/ for more information on the Enhanced Fujita scale.
Knowing what to do before a tornado can help preserve your property and ultimately save your life.
Before Tornado Season Begins – Use the months of February and March to take the following preventative measures:
• Have your trees inspected, pruned, and removed if necessary.
• Secure or put away objects and equipment that could become airborne projectiles.
• Have your roof inspected and either repaired or replaced if damages are found.
• Install walls or plant shrubbery to act as windbreaks for trees and smaller structures on your property.
• Thoroughly inspect the exterior of your home for loose fixtures, gutters, or shutters and fix them.
During a Tornado Watch – A tornado watch is issued when weather conditions are favorable for the formation of tornadoes. When a tornado watch is issued:
• Double check your property to make sure no loose objects were left out.
• Communicate with family members and make sure everyone can reach a planned location for safety.
• Move fresh bottled water, light food rations, flashlights, and first-aid kits to the “safe area” you have designated within your home or basement.
• If you do not have a basement, the innermost space of your home should be your designated destination (put as many walls in all directions between you and the outside).
During a Tornado Warning – A tornado warning is issued when a tornado has touched down or been sighted in your area. When a tornado warning is issued, you have 13 minutes or less to get yourself, loved ones, and pets to your designated safe area or out of the path entirely.
After a Tornado Threat has Passed – Immediately inspect the interior of your home for leaks, flooding, and structural damages.
• If you have flooding within your home immediately turn off the power at the breaker box to avoid electrocution and shut off the water source to prevent further flooding.
• Inspect the exterior of your home for visible damages and document everything you find.
• As hail commonly accompanies tornadoes, be on the lookout for hail damage to your home and vehicle.
• Inspect your landscape for leaning or toppled trees, and any damages to other smaller structures.
When surveying damages to your property, take pictures or videos of all irregularities and note the date and time that they occurred. This information will be beneficial when filing a claim with your insurance company.
Visit insurancepublicadjustersofgeorgia.com/most-common-home-insurance-claims/ to discover how to react to other storm scenarios.
Which Insurance Policy Covers Tornado Damages?
If you are looking for the word “tornado” in your insurance policy, you may be disappointed. Tornadoes are covered only if your policy includes wind coverage. The different policies that may be activated in such events are:
Homeowners Insurance – This policy protects you by covering damages to your home caused by a tornado.
Flood Insurance – Covers flood or storm surge damages caused by a tornado.
Renters Insurance – Covers damages to your belongings.
Landlords Property Insurance – Covers structural damages to a rental property.
Auto Insurance – Covers damages to your vehicle.
Flood insurance is not typically included in regular insurance policies. This insurance is commonly acquired as a rider policy or separately by the National Flood Insurance Program and can be purchased through your agent or insurer.
Unless you have flood insurance, flood water damage is not usually covered by homeowners or renters insurance. However, if the tornado or hail damaged your roof and your home flooded due to that damage, your insurance (with wind coverage) should kick into effect to cover the flooding.
If your home has been damaged or destroyed by the storm, a homeowners or renters insurance policy covers living expenses such as hotel bills and meals. This coverage should be separate from the funds used to repair or rebuild your home.
How to File a Claim
The idea of filing an insurance claim in the middle of the calamity caused by a tornado may seem daunting. You have insurance to protect yourself and your property in situations like this, and the sooner you file, the faster repairs to your home can begin, and you can get back to normal. The following steps will help you efficiently file an insurance claim:
1 – *Immediately notify your insurance company of the damages and get a claim number.
2 – Review your policy and coverage with them to ensure that the appropriate clauses will kick in for your claim.
3 – Ask what information is needed to expedite your claim.
4 – Document everything damaged and be prepared to provide receipts, photos, videos, etc.
5 – Meet with an Adjuster from your insurance policy carrier.
6 – **Get an estimate for the total cost of repairs and replacement.
7 – Initiate the repair and replacement process.
*For instances where significant damages have occurred, it is often recommended to simultaneously contact an insurance public adjuster to evaluate the damages to your property and review the insurance policy covering it. They will work to prevent your insurance company from underpaying your claim.
**If you did not contact an insurance public adjuster in the beginning, and feel that your insurance provider has not given you a fair offer, ask an independent public adjuster to review the case and your insurance policy. If verified, and with your authorization, they will go to work for you to retrieve the maximum payout for your property damage or loss claim.
Tornadoes and Insurance Claims
Within a matter of minutes, a tornado can tear your entire community apart, leaving a path of destruction and death for miles. Recovering from an event like this depends heavily on the insurance you have.
In this article, you discovered essential information about tornado intensity and destructiveness, how to survive them, which insurance covers tornado damages, how to file an insurance claim, and when to call an insurance public adjuster.
Your failure to promptly initiate your claim after a tornado can significantly delay the repairing or rebuilding of your home. You have insurance to help you navigate through disasters like this, make sure that you are using it to its full potential.
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