The possibility of spring storm damage, whether from hail, rain, windstorms or even an actual tornado, has those living in the path of tornado alley on high alert. Most standard home and car insurance policies have basic provisions for tornadoes and various other weather related types of risks. However, the type of coverage you have can make a significant difference that could either save or cost you thousands of dollars in how much you get paid in the event of an insurance claim.
Tornadoes can appear from any direction and may or may not be accompanied by hail, lightning, thunder, and rain. The most dangerous aspect of the tornado is its force and sudden appearance, destroying property with little warning. Because of this, being prepared, for the safety of your family and the type of insurance you have will make a significant difference on the final outcome.
Some homeowners and renters can find themselves in a costly situation because they did not review their insurance coverage carefully. Reviewing your policy is an important step you can take to prepare before a storm strikes.
The Biggest Risk in Your Home Insurance Coverage for Tornadoes
Being underinsured is a common mistake homeowners face when their home suffers major damage during a severe storm or tornado.
With the rising costs of construction materials and labor, home insurance reconstruction costs have increased through the years. Although some policies do include the option for inflation adjustment, this is not sufficient to cover varying construction costs. Take the time now to reread your policy and discover how much your home is insured for in case of an incident.
Then, be sure to inquire about what happens in a claim, if your home is underinsured. Some policies claim “guaranteed replacement cost,” however, the limit may be capped. Other policies may limit you to the insured value. With so many homeowners underinsured, this is a major problem that may leave you in a situation where even with insurance, you may not have enough to rebuild!
Contact your agent or broker to discuss your policy and, if necessary, have them verify that the current insured value is sufficient. You also want to check and make sure you have all the best insurance endorsements available to guarantee you are fully covered in a major loss.
Unfortunately, we know that doesn’t always happen. However, there are some things you can and should do when a disaster strikes your property:
- First, call your insurance company. Also, you need to submit your claim in writing (mail, email or fax). An attorney can help with this initial process to make sure your rights are protected.
- If you are displaced from your home, an attorney can negotiate up-front advances to provide you short-term alternative places to stay.
- If your home is uninhabitable due to major damage, based on your policy, your insurance company should pay for equivalent housing while repairs are being done.
- Document all the damage you suffered in as much detail as possible. Use your smart phone to take pictures of any personal property damage, as well damage to the structure. Send all these pictures to your insurance adjuster and always record the date and time they were sent. In addition, keep careful notes of all your meetings and conversations with your insurance adjuster.
- Produce documentation requested by your insurance company to avoid being accused of bad faith, but do not sign any documents concerning a settlement or Proof of Loss without an attorney present. Also, if you are asked to give statements under oath – have your attorney present.
Most insurance companies want to do the right thing, but they also do not want pay one extra dollar than necessary. Miller & Wynn Attorneys can help you navigate this stressful time in your life, by working with you and the insurance companies. We will make sure you get every dollar that is rightfully yours. Contact us if you need assistance with your insurance company following any disaster, by visiting www.MillerWynnLaw.com or by calling 770-942-2720.