Shuman Roy is an entrepreneur, business owner, and musician. He started RoysNoys, LLC in 2013 as a music production and education service company. He also offers small business consulting and advisory services to help businesses get from start-up mode to turn-key operations. Shuman earned his M.B.A from the Stern School of Business in 2001 and has an undergraduate degree from Manhattan College in ...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Joel...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Jul 19, 2021

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tornado damage

Tornadoes cause hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage every year, which those living in “Tornado Alley” are all too aware of.

But if you only suffer damage to your home and/or its contents, consider yourself fortunate.

While your life may have been turned upside down, there is a protocol to follow when it comes to your insurance policy.

TTAI wants you to be informed when it comes to this particular natural disaster. Review the following information as a guide to make sure you handle the situation properly.

STEP 1 – Personal Safety

Property can be replaced. There is nothing like a catastrophic weather event to remind us that our possessions are just that…possessions. Your number one priority is to make sure you and your family are safe!

You will want to listen to your local television or radio station for up-to-date information about the developing weather. After a tornado, it could be possible that your home is now considered an evacuated area. Do not return to your residence if this is the case.

You don’t need to expose yourself to the added danger of a gas leak (think explosion) or sewer back up (think polluted water) after a tornado. If possible, turn off your gas and water if potential damage is evident.

[Homeowners insurance liability coverage.]

If you have no idea what you’re doing, leave this process to the professionals. No one expects you to be a hero or endanger your safety to save property. This is what insurance is for.

Also, broken glass and other sharp objects will likely be present after a tornado has ripped through your area, so only go back to your home if you’re convinced it’s safe.

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STEP 2 – Contact Your Insurer

Your homeowners insurance policy, which is a legally binding contract, stipulates that you must contact your insurer as soon as is reasonably possible to report tornado damage. This is, of course, after your personal safety is taken into account. If it isn’t “safe,” your insurer will take a back seat!

Do not place your personal safety in front of your call to your insurance company. The phrase “as soon as is reasonably possible” takes into account that your personal well being is NUMBER ONE.

However, not every tornado destroys entire communities and costs lives. Some tornadoes only cause minimal damage.

A minor tornado may only cause a small amount of damage to your home and may be part of a larger weather system, including windstorms (not categorized as a tornado) and heavy rain.

In these instances, your insurance policy dictates that you protect your property from further damage…once it is safe to do so. You are not relieved of your responsibility to protect your possessions by putting up tarps on the hole in your roof or plywood over your windows.

[Why insurance won’t cover certain roof claims.]

If you have possessions that can be saved from damage…save them! Insurance is designed get you back to where you “were” financially, but not to be your first line of defense against a loss.

Tip: Keep your receipts if you spend any of your own money to prevent damage to your property. While your insurance company can’t send you money at two in the morning to get someone out to your home to prevent further damage, they will certainly cover your expenses for doing so later.

STEP 3 – Shop Your Rate and Review Coverage

Almost every homeowner’s insurance policy will cover you against financial losses from a tornado or windstorm (tornado insurance), but not all insurers charge the same amount of money for coverage.

Take a moment to compare insurance quotes online to ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.

You could save hundreds annually just by filling out a short form and/or answering a phone call or two from an independent insurance agent.

Shopping your rate is also a good time to learn more about your existing homeowners insurance coverage. You could find out that you’re not insured properly. And you may be able to boost coverage without paying more than you’re currently do.

(photo: PhotoJunkie!)