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Be Careful Policyholders: 2024 Is Already a Bad Year for Tornadoes and More Are On the Way!

Policyholders were Affected Yesterday and Bracing for Upcoming Tornadoes

Yesterday, powerful tornadoes ripped through Southwestern Michigan, leaving devastation in their wake. For full coverage see this article from CNN. Tornadoes destroyed homes, a fedex facility, and even left timbers stuck in the side of a hotel like a dartboard. Unfortunately, this tornadic activity is expected to continue today and to affect much of the country. Unfortunately, this year already has been a bad year.


Late April Devastating Tornadoes  

In late April, a series of devastating tornadoes ripped through several states in the United States, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. The tornado outbreak brought severe storms across the Midwest, Southeast, and Southern Plains regions. Multiple tornadoes of varying intensities touched down, particularly affecting Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas. The most destructive storms were categorized as EF-3 and EF-4 on the Enhanced Fujita scale, which means their wind speeds ranged from 136 mph to over 165 mph. 

Death Toll is Already at 50

These tornadoes had staggering consequences with over 50 lives lost,  hundreds of people injured and thousands of people left without shelter.. Over 7,000 properties were affected, and the total reconstruction cost is estimated to be a staggering $2.1 billion, broken down as follows: 

Here's a breakdown:

  1. Residential Properties: $1.2 billion

  2. Commercial Properties: $500 million

  3. Public Infrastructure: $300 million

  4. Critical Facilities: $100 million

What should policyholders do before and after a tornado and what challenges will they face?

Before severe weather, make sure to document all of your possessions and the condition of your house or business. One easy way is to walk the inside and outside of your home or business and shoot a video showing the condition of the home or building and your possessions, contents, or any inventory. Back up insurance policies, photos, videos, and receipts for large items and electronics to an online source such as dropbox, ICloud, OneDrive, or Google Drive. Make sure to heed all weather warnings and shelter safely during a storm. Evacuate if necessary. I have had clients whose lives have been saved by sheltering in a bathtub, closet or other interior room.

Tips for Dealing with the Insurance Company

After the storm and after you are safe, you will have to deal with the insurance company. Here are some tips for that process. While it can be hard for insurance companies to totally deny tornado damage claims, we often will see attempts to deny portions of tornado damage as pre-existing and to underpay construction claims. For instance, I have had many cases in which insurers have claimed that damage to the structure of a home were really caused by settlement and natural shifting rather than the racking and twisting that often occur during a tornado. 

In addition, insurance companies often use a program called Xactimate to estimate the amount of the loss but these Xactimate estimates can differ wildly from the amount it would take an area contractor to restore the home or building. In fact, these estimates can understate the cost of repair by hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

As a result, from a policyholder standpoint, the biggest difficulty with the insurance company will likely be underpayment of claims. When this occurs, public adjusters (in some states) and policyholder attorneys can help policyholders get the full measure of damages available under the policy. If you are affected by tornadoes and your insurer is giving you trouble, please contact us right away.

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