In May 2013, a category EF5 tornado raced through the small town of Moore, Oklahoma, killing 24 people, injuring nearly 400 more and destroying $2 billion in property. Tragically, this is not an isolated incident: Tornados occur more often in the United States than any other country, especially in “Tornado Alley,” a region that stretches from north Texas up to Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska.
Tornados cause an average of 60 deaths and 1500 injuries every year.. They also cause an estimated $400 million in property damage.
So, if a tornado is heading your way, it’s important to do everything you can to protect your family and your valuables.
In most cases, you’ll only have about 15 minutes to prepare before the arrival of a tornado. However, there are a number of steps you can take in advance to minimize your risk.
Step 1. Create a home inventory.
To do this, take photos of all valuables in your home, and add notes about when they were purchased and how much they’re worth. Keep your inventory notes and any relevant receipts in a fire-proof safe. Many insurers also offer online tools for storing this data.
Step 2. Make sure that your insurance is up to date.
If you recently purchased or inherited valuable artwork or other items, ensure your home insurance policy provides enough coverage to replace these items. If it doesn’t, you can supplement your policy with a valuable items rider. It’s also important to make sure that you have enough homeowner’s insurance to rebuild your home if necessary.
Step 3. Come up with an emergency plan.
Practice how you and your family would react if a tornado strikes. Choose a “safe room” in your house with no windows or heavy furniture, such as a basement, and come up with a communications plan in case you aren’t together when the tornado hits. Stock up on batteries, water, and canned food in case of an extended power outage.
If a tornado causes damage to your property or injuries to you or any family members, it’s important to get in contact with your insurance company right away.
Your home insurance policy should cover damage to your home and property, and the comprehensive portion of your auto insurance policy will cover tornado damage to your vehicle. If you or your family members are injured, medical costs will generally be covered under your health insurance policy.
If you can’t remain in your home, your home insurance should reimburse you for temporary accommodation. Depending on the extent of damage to your town, you may also benefit from emergency aid from FEMA.
Tornados can be frightening, but by taking advance precautions, you can minimize the impact. Make sure that you have proper insurance coverage for your family and property, establish a safety plan, and stay calm.