What if a tornado strikes my home?

It’s a challenge to talk about situations that will likely bring stress and discomfort, but it’s when these discussions don’t take place it can seem so much worse at the time. It’s tornado season in central Illinois. Like earthquakes or floods, tornados are catastrophic life-changing natural events that are hard to predict. We asked Eighteen21 columnist, Jay Davis of Country Financial in Springfield, Illinois, to explain what happens when a catastrophe strikes. 

I always say it’s important to be prepared, which is why I recommend that you create a home inventory just in case. Having a detailed list ready to go and hand off to a claims representative after a natural disaster can help make the process easier. Creating a home inventory doesn’t have to be complicated.  Simply do a room-by-room walkthrough and create an itemized list of your belongings. If you have receipts that’s even better. You can even take photos or videos to create a catalogue of what you own. 

In many cases, when areas are hit by tornadoes and other types of severe weather a team of claims representatives will be dispatched. A claims representative will be assigned to you and he or she will schedule a time to go over your property. 

When you report a disaster claim, you need to take measures to help secure your property and aid your insurer in compiling your damage report: 

•   Protect and clean up your property: board up broken windows, cover holes with tarps and take steps to prevent further damage to your property. Shut off utilities to the house. 

•   Save receipts: save all receipts from emergency repairs so that you can be reimbursed for the cost. 

•   Property inventory: make an inventory of your damaged property. Include the age, model, date of purchase and current purchase price for each item, if possible. If you have a home inventory and receipts saved from when you purchased items you’re already one step ahead. 

•   Collect photos: take photos or video of your damaged property and give them to your claims representative. 

In order to make the process as smooth as possible it’s important that you are able to provide, when making a claim, phone numbers including home, work, and cell, a household contact you want to handle the claim, your policy number, date and location of the damage and description of the damage. 

It’s important to bear in mind that your property is covered up to a certain amount so, for expensive or unique items such as fine art, antiques or jewelry it’s worth speaking with your agent about increasing the limits on your policy or contents replacement cost coverage where you will be compensated for lost or damaged items based on their replacement cost value – with a typical homeowners policy you will be reimbursed based on your belongings’ depreciated value. 

Also, ask your agent about additional living expenses, you don’t have to cover the cost of living somewhere else while your home is being repaired or rebuilt. Most home insurance includes coverage for additional living expenses or loss of use, which pays for extra costs to live while your home is uninhabitable. These expenses can include rent, hotel stays, restaurant meals and storage fees. 

It’s best to be prepared so that if you are affected by a tornado you can concentrate on getting your family somewhere safe and comfortable, and into your home again, as soon as possible. 

If you have any questions about home insurance or would like to meet with Jay Davis of COUNTRY Financial get in touch on 217 698 3480 or email Jay.Davis@countryfinancial.com. Jay is located at 2931 Montvale Dr, Springfield, IL 62704.