Living through a tornado is among the most distressing experiences an individual can have. In fact, physiologists state that surviving a natural disaster is nearly as stressful as losing a job or the death of a loved one. When the storm also destroys your home, things become even more complicated. Knowing what to do in the event a tornado damages or destroys your home can make it easier to navigate a difficult situation.
What Should I do in the Aftermath of a Tornado?
The most important first step is to secure your safety and the safety of your loved ones and pets. While it is important to take decisive and swift action in the aftermath of a tornado, no amount of property damage is worth risking your health or life.
Contact your insurance company as quickly as possible. If you have a trusted insurance agent, reach out and let them know what has happened to your home. If you do not have an agent, you can contact your insurance provider directly.
Write down the name and contact number for anyone you speak to at the insurance company, and keep a log of those conversations. Include the topic, and timelines provided by your insurer, and a list of any documentation that the insurer requests.
When Should I Assess the Damage to my Home?
The urge to go view your home and try to save anything you can is understandable. However, it is important to avoid going too close to the property until you are given clearance by authorities. In the hours and sometimes days following a tornado, power lines, water lines, and gas supply lines could be damaged, putting you and others at risk of serious harm.
Once it is safe to enter the property, make an effort to prevent any further damage. If your home has been completely destroyed there may be little you can do in this regard. However, if there are still areas of the home that are structurally sound, you may be able to use tarps or plywood to prevent additional damage from the elements.
Don’t make long-term repairs until you hear back from your insurance company about how they plan to proceed with your claim. Keep your receipts and detailed records on any work you perform at the property.
You may be asked to provide the insurance company with a Proof of Loss statement. This document lists the items of property that were damaged beyond repair in a tornado. Create a document in an online format, and add to it as things come to mind. It may be more challenging than you think to list all of your lost belongings, and you should take your time to ensure you cover everything.
Familiarize Yourself With Your Insurance Policy
Many homeowners pay little attention to the details of their insurance policies until and unless an issue arises. Take some time to read over your policy and make a list of any questions or concerns you have.
In the aftermath of a serious natural disaster, insurance companies can become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of claims that come in. If you understand the ins and outs of your policy you’ll be better equipped to detect any shortfalls in coverage.
What if I’m Unhappy With the Insurance Response?
Insurance companies exist to make a profit, and paying out claims can negatively affect an insurance provider’s bottom line. It should also be noted that insurance claims are processed by human beings, and simple human error can lead to mistakes that affect your claim.
If you suspect that the response from your insurance provider is not in line with the coverage you purchased, reach out to a skilled insurance attorney to determine where things stand. Far too many homeowners simply accept the first figure they are provided with, leaving thousands of dollars on the table that are rightfully theirs.
What are Some Common Types of Tornado Damage?
Not every tornado flattens homes to the ground. In many cases, the damage is extensive enough to render the home uninhabitable for a period of time, but repairs can make it possible for you and your family to eventually move back in.
Some common types of tornado damage include:
- Damage to roofs and siding
- Broken windows and gutters
- Landscape damage
- Bent, twisted, or broken framing
- Cracked, separates, or water-damaged walls and floors
- Damage to your chimney, roof vents, garage doors, fencing, and other exterior components of your home
How Can I Know if my Insurance Claim is Properly Handled?
A professional legal review of your claim is the best way to know if your insurance provider came through on their obligation to repair or compensate you for your damaged home. The intricacies of insurance law and practice make it nearly impossible for the average homeowner to determine if their claim is adequately paid.
Contact an insurance lawyer who specializes in insurance law for a professional review of your tornado damage insurance claim. You’ll learn if there are areas of coverage that were improperly denied or paid out too low. If there are areas of concern, you will also learn how to move forward with legal action.
Begin the Recovery Process
Living through a natural disaster is traumatic, especially for families who have lost their home. Having a trusted legal advisor on your side gives you the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your insurance has performed as intended.
There are many aspects involved in recovering from a tornado. Some are emotional, while others are of a more practical nature. Your insurance lawyer can help you understand what to expect in terms of if or when your home can be repaired, and what steps you should take to secure temporary and long-term housing, as needed.
For many, simply having a clearly defined plan of action can go a long way toward easing recovery after a natural disaster. Your attorney will assume responsibility for communicating with your insurance provider, and will update you on the progress. That allows you to focus on attending to other needs during what can be a very uncertain time.