Your phone rings. As you begin to pick up your phone to look at the message, you hear the sirens. You run and grab your kids, your spouse, your pet and everyone jumps in the tub with some pillows for protection.
The tornado passes and, luckily, your home got away with JUST wind and hail damage on the roof and gutters. "Not a problem!" you think to yourself, "This is what my insurance is here for!"
You pick up your phone to call your agent and think to yourself, "What's going to happen now?"
This scenario plays out often. Very often. In 2018 alone, there were 987 confirmed tornados! Since tornados can cause wide spread damage, that's THOUSANDS of families that are affected and need to know how their coverage works when storm damage hits.
I say storm damage because, essentially, tornados are not treated different than any other storm by insurance. The positive to that is there aren't specific tornado deductibles, like there are with earthquakes or volcanoes or other natural disasters. Even water damage, as long as it is ONLY the rain water from the tornado, doesn't get it's own separate deductible (there's a lot of variables to that, make sure to discuss that point in detail with your claim adjuster) because it's part of the same storm.
But, back to the main question, what do you do now that the storm has come? The short answer is at the bottom, but the reasoning is next.
First and foremost, make sure you're ok and safe. Are there any injuries to you or to your family? Things are replaceable, people are not! The second question is am I safe? If your home is structurally unsound, get out.
Quick and easy checklist, right? Am I ok, is the house ok?
Now things can get a little more in depth.
The next thing you need to do, assuming you're ok and your house is ok, is to call you insurance agent. The earlier you call your agent for storms of any size, the earlier your claim will be handled. Most companies have a handful of claims agents for a given area and will hire out additional agents or bring in out of state agents when they realize they are getting overwhelmed. The earlier you are in the queue, the faster you'll be seen by a claims agent.
After you have made your claim, go ahead and start calling contractors for estimates. The same rule applies of there are only so many contractors in the area. When outside of the area contractors see there are more claims than can be handled, they'll come running. There is nothing wrong with out of the area contractors, most of them do great work, but you're less likely to see them or be able to find them when they go back home in case there is a problem.
For all storms, the most basic checklist is always this.
- Am I and my family ok?
- Am I and my family safe?
- I need to call my insurance agent to make a claim.
- I need to call a contractor and get started on estimates.
Stay safe out there!