Tornado season is upon us. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Texas had 61 tornado events last year that affected 46 counties and equaled approximately $5 million in property damage. Tornadoes can’t be prevented, but there are steps you can take to protect yourself, your family, your car, and your home from damage.
Tornado Watch vs. Tornado Warning
The difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning is the difference between taking precautions and taking action.
A tornado watch means the weather conditions make it possible for a tornado or severe storm to occur. Be alert to changing weather conditions and listen to local radio and TV for updated storm info.
A tornado warning means that a tornado has been sighted or picked up by radar in your area. This is more dangerous – immediately.
tornados in Texas in 2018
property damage in Texas in 2018
Before a Tornado
- Sign up for your community’s warning system and find multiple sources to monitor real-time weather conditions.
- Create a tornado plan and prepare a disaster kit.
- Check to see if your auto policy has comprehensive coverage, for damage from falling objects and wind.
- Check your homeowners insurance policy to see what’s covered in case of tornado damage and what deductible(s) you have. Consider adding additional coverage such as replacement cost value (RCV) if you don’t already have it.
- Prepare a home inventory of all your personal property, in case of damages.
How to Reduce Tornado Damage
- Identify and consider removing any dead limbs, or downed branches that may fall and damage buildings or other structures.
- Move cars, lawn furniture, and other outdoor equipment inside to minimize flying debris.
- Make sure all doors and windows are closed and locked, including garage doors.
- Consider storm shutters or boards to protect your windows.
After a Tornado
- Report any damage to your insurance company as soon as possible. But, do not enter affected areas or damaged buildings until you are told that they are safe.
- If you can’t live in your home because of tornado damage, your policy covers additional living expenses (ALE) such as hotel bills or meals out. Save any related receipts and make sure your insurer knows how to contact you.
- Take photos or videos of damage.
- Make a detailed list of all damaged personal property. Use your home inventory list to help with this process.
- Get your property inspected and get a written estimate. Review any contracts before signing.
- Only make emergency repairs before your insurance company’s inspection. Be careful during clean up!
- Hire a qualified and insured contractor to do the repairs.
- Keep receipts and records of all communications regarding repairs.
- Double-check that the repairs are completed, then take photos or videos for your records.