The word “tornado” does not exist in most insurance policies. However, what does exist is the words “windstorm” or “wind”. That is where coverage for your tornado damage exists.
Tornado Damage Coverage
Windstorm coverage is standard in most insurance policies, and it covers the damages resulting from any type of windstorm event. Be it; wind, hail, tornado damage, hurricane, fallen trees that damage covered structures, etc. Windstorm related damages are the type of coverage homeowners and businessowners should rely on for related tornado damages.
The caveat to what most insurance policies cover is that all policies are subject to customization when they’re purchased. The type of policy needs to be noted. A few policy types are written to specifically exclude property damage caused by wind. Unfortunately, under such circumstances, any windstorm damages resulting from wind, hail, tornado damage, hurricane, fallen trees that damage covered structures, etc. are likely to be excluded from coverage.
Within the most common homeowners or businessowners policy wind related damages will be covered. Policyholders should review their policy under the sections of “dwelling coverage” of “Building coverage” for business policies. This section will explain coverage for structural repairs and rebuilding of the structure. Whereas, the section under “Personal Property,” “Contents,” or Business Personal Property,” will outline coverage for fixing or replacing damaged belongings within the home or business.
Within those categories of coverage, there may be variations in the deductible. A roof, for example, might have a deductible that is separate from the deductible on the rest of the property. The deductible will be deducted from the overall amount to be paid for the damages. In some cases, the deductible could be larger than the full amount of damages suffered. In this event the claim would be closed, and the insured would not receive any insurance proceeds. Staying with damages to a roof as an example, there may be only $1,000 in covered damages, but the deductible is $2,500. Hence, no payment from the insurance company will be received.
In addition, there is coverage for fences, sheds and outbuildings that have been damaged by wind. However, there are exclusions for wind related damages to landscaping and in some instances for down trees and the associated yard debris. Such coverage can get tricky. It’s a good idea to consult a professional.
Tornadoes and windstorms are usually accompanied by heavy rain. While most policies will not cover flood damage, a policy that covers wind-related damage is likely to cover damage from the intrusion of rainwater, even “Windriven Rain” through cracks and crevices. Almost all rainwater that enters through a “Storm-Related” opening is covered. Meaning, the storm created the opening, crack, or hole by ripping off roof shingles or siding, or a tree branch breaks through a window, etc.
Even when an insurance agent assures that a policy covers all damages that are the result of a tornado, policyholders are advised to read the policy carefully and look for any clauses that are questionable or that even require the repairs to be completed within a certain timeframe. Again, it’s also a good idea to consult a professional.
Additional Coverage For Displacement
The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America notes that many policies provide reimbursement for living expenses if the home is deemed uninhabitable — but only if that’s due to a covered loss.
Coverage for “Additional Living Expenses (ALE),” sometimes called “Loss of Use,” will pay for temporary housing, as well as restaurant meals, parking, laundry services, mileage, and other necessities that are a result of a home or business being uninhabitable.
It’s suggested that property owners review their policies with their insurance agent to determine the full extent of their coverage. Or consult a professional outside of your insurance company for an unbiased opinion. If a conflict arises, they can contact their State’s Department of Insurance to file a formal complaint.
Checking Property for Tornado Damage
For those with damage from tornadoes or windstorms, here’s what Joe Brennan, a North Carolina Insurance Consultant and David Daskam, of For The Public Adjusters, Inc. in Virginia, recommend that policyholders homeowners do to inspect their property:
Plumbing: Windstorms will rack or shake a home or building. Policyholders should open all faucets in kitchens and baths, then open and inspect all cabinets to check the plumbing lines for leaks. Continue by flushing all toilets, run showers and fill all bathtubs with water. Investigate the ceilings below these areas for water marks .
Roofing/Siding: Sometimes an insurance damage claim that’s a result of high winds may not have appeared to damage the roof from the ground. However, it’s a good idea to have a professional inspect the roof for cracks, gouges or tears that affect the roof tabs from flying debris. Tornadoes or high wind activity will also rip, tear, and crack many types of siding. Such affects on the siding and roof can often allow water entry.
Windows & Gutters: Wind activity and flying debris will often damage window glass, rip screening, crack shutters, and detach or dent gutters.
Brick & Foundations: Inspect masonry for splits and separation. Property damage by tornadoes or windstorms can also cause displacement and uplift to footings and foundations. View the perimeter of all crawlspaces. Severe structural damages can occasionally remain unseen.
Interior: Extreme storms can cause splitting to the corners of walls. Such stress cracking can also be seen around doors and window openings. It’s a good idea to check for shifting of flooring and the movement of walls using a level. In the following weeks and months it’s also highly recommended to look out for water stains and mold on walls and ceilings. Such stains could indicate missed roof damage .
Tornado Damage Claims Fraud
Insurance companies and many engineering firms have even been sued for their failure to recognize these types of property damage claims after excessive wind activity and tornadoes.
CNN Reports State Farm Penalized in Suit Over Tornado Damage Claims :
State Farm acted “recklessly” and “with malice” in handling insurance claims from dozens of families whose homes were damaged when a wave of tornadoes, including the strongest in recorded history, swept through Oklahoma in 1999, a jury has decided. The verdict…delivered millions to the lead plaintiffs… The jury in the District Court of Grady County, Oklahoma, awarded Donald and Bridget Watkins almost $13 million in total damages for their part in the class action suit against the nation’s largest insurer….
We are all well aware that windstorms involving a tornado will result in damaging winds. Even tornadoes that do not actually “touch-down” will often cause severe pressure on residential and commercial structures. Extreme winds will often push and pull on the buildings causing fasteners and building parts to become damaged.
Above all, as stated, consult a professional to inspect your home or building and be sure your family is safe. Feel free to call For The Public Adjusters, Inc in North carolina at 919-400-6440 or in Virginia at 757-797-0404 to obtain FREE Insurance Advice – especially, if you suspect that you are not be treated fairly for any wind or tornado damage you have suffered. Tornado Damage Claim Help and Assistance is available for anyone who has suffered or knows anyone who has suffered from wind or tornado damage.