Tornado and Severe Weather Insurance Checklist
Severe thunderstorms, large hail, and tornadoes – oh my! It’s that time of year when severe weather starts showing up on the forecast. Before the storms hit, use the below checklist as a starting point to make sure you’re prepared, properly covered, and understand what to do in case you have to file a claim due to severe weather.
1. Is your home insured for its current value?
One of the biggest risks you face during a tornado or severe weather is being underinsured. While some insurance policies include guaranteed replacement cost, the limit might be capped at a certain amount. Ask your agent about available policy endorsements to guarantee you are fully covered in the event of a major loss.
2. What kind of home insurance policy do you have?
Do you have an All Risk or Open Perils policy to ensure the maximum protection for your home and personal property?
3. Do you have a certain deductible in the event of a tornado or windstorm?
Higher risk areas may have higher deductibles. It’s good to know what your deductible is BEFORE a loss occurs, so you aren’t surprised when you have to file a claim.
Speaking of claims…
4. Do you understand the claims process?
Make sure you understand the claims process BEFORE you need to file claim. Ask your agent what the basis of claims will be. For instance, ask if you have:
- Replacement Cost,
- Actual Cash Value (ACV), or
- a Replacement Value with Cash Out Option (which is less common and is only available for high-end insurance policies)
5. Does your policy have any special limits or policy features?
For example, you may want to purchase additional protection for valuable items, such as jewelry or collections.
6. Do you have an inventory of the contents in your home?
Be sure to include contents in additional structures, such as detached garages and sheds. Tip: walk around your property and take a video or photos and store them in a safe place off-site so you still have access to them in the event of a major loss.
7. What is your limit for Additional Living Expenses and do you know how it works?
In the event of a major loss due to a windstorm or tornado, you may not be able to live in your home until repairs are finished. However, you’ll still be expected to make mortgage payments while your home is being rebuilt.
Additional Living Expenses cover the increased cost of living due to displacement, including rent you have to pay for temporary housing and higher costs of food due to eating out because you don’t have a kitchen to cook meals in.
8. Does your auto insurance include comprehensive coverage for damage, such as hail, windstorms, and falling object?
Your home isn’t the only thing at risk during a storm. Make sure you have enough coverage on your vehicles as well.
Speaking of auto insurance…
9. Do you have coverage for a rental car if your car needs repairs?
Rental cars can be expensive. Ask if you have coverage for a rental loaner vehicle. If you don’t, it’s usually not expensive to add to your policy.
10. Do you have flood insurance?
The risk for flooding is constantly and rapidly changing. It’s estimated that only 6% of the U.S. population has flood insurance. Just like homeowners’ insurance, flood insurance can be customized to fit your needs. Find out why you should consider flood insurance even if you live in a low- to moderate-risk area.
Bottom Line: If your home, property, or vehicles are damaged in a storm, be sure to contact your agent as soon as possible to start the claims process.
Need to file a claim? Review the dos and don’ts for filing homeowners and auto claims after a storm.
References: Tornado and severe weather insurance checklist