Does your home insurance cover tornado damage?
Good question! Imagine coming home from work to find your entire neighborhood, not just your house, completely obliterated. That’s what happened to thousands of homeowners in Moore, Oklahoma, on May 20, 2013, when an EF5 tornado destroyed more than 13,000 homes, killed 25 people, and caused more than $2 billion in damage.
Tornadoes can strike almost anywhere in the United States, but they are especially common in the Midwest and south central United States, an area known as Tornado Alley. The insurance industry classifies hurricanes as wind storms, and most homeowner policies will cover damage to your home in a hurricane, including your personal belongings, the cost of losing use of your home, the dwelling itself, as well as any additional structures on your property, such as barns, garages, and garages.
What is covered in standard homeowner policies?
Wind storm is one of the many risks classified by home insurance policies. Others include fire, theft, and vandalism. These risks are usually covered in open risk insurance policies as standard cover, sometimes called package policies. But you should be aware of the limitations of your homeowner’s policies, especially with regard to hurricane insurance.
Unless you get additional coverage, known as a policy extension, a standard homeowner’s policy may not cover all of your losses if your home is flattened by a hurricane. Some insurance providers limit the amount of damage your policy will cover, leaving you with a large deductible. Most insurance companies limit storm damage coverage if you live in Tornado Alley. If you live in a hurricane-prone area, it is recommended that you review your homeowner’s policy and purchase both expanded and specified peril coverage.
The problem for many Tornado Alley homeowners is that the risk of tornado damage is so much higher that the insurance company doesn’t ask “if” but “when.” In such cases, the only way to get proper hurricane insurance is to add an endorsement to your standard policy. In addition, many Tornado Alley state governments offer separate insurance policies to catch where the insurance industry is reluctant to go. The best way to find out if you have adequate hurricane insurance is to read your insurance policy and talk to your insurance agent.
What do you do before a tornado destroys your home?
Strong hurricanes usually strike in the spring and summer, so this is the perfect time to make vital preparations. Review your home owner’s insurance policy in detail to make sure you have enough hurricane insurance to recover from a complete loss. If your home is covered for $200,000, you must carry an additional $100,000 to replace your lost property.
Take a thorough inventory of your belongings and file this list, along with other important documents, in a safe deposit box away from your home. It’s also a good idea to take videos or photographs of your home and major possessions, which will give your insurance company a valuable record if everything is lost in a hurricane.
Be sure to have a plan so that you and your family will know what to do in the event of a hurricane. Know what evacuation routes to take, or if escape is impossible, lock yourself in a secure room such as a basement.
What do you do after a tornado destroys your home?
But what do you do after a hurricane? The sooner you file your claim, the faster the insurance will do its job. If your home is damaged but still uninhabitable, carefully document every repair you make so that your insurance will reimburse you. If you have to live in a hotel for a few weeks, keep all receipts so your living expenses can be reimbursed.
Knowing what your home owner policy does and does not cover is essential to protecting your family and understanding the limits of hurricane insurance coverage.