Two Weeks Later, after Tornadoes Destroy, Americans in the Mid-West Deal with the Daunting Task of Rebuilding

America's top insurance lawyer, Frank N. Darras offers tips on dealing with insurance companies.

June 04, 2013

DarrasTornado season is in full swing this year and after 10 tornadoes hit North Texas, a massive tornado swept across Oklahoma killing 24 people, including 7 children. Just this past Friday, three of the most professional men in the field of storm chasing were killed. According to meteorologists, these tornadoes have packed up to 600 times more energy than the atomic bomb that fell on Hiroshima during WWII. Winds have exceeded 200 miles per hour and the storms have ranked from EF3 to EF5 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale-EF5 is the highest category of storm. These deadly twisters became the most expensive tornadoes in U.S. history, causing upwards of $2 billion in damage so far.

As the initial shock wears off and rebuilding begins, the nation is coming together to support the residents of Oklahoma. Music stars across the nation joined forces in Oklahoma last Wednesday for a benefit concert for victims of the deadly tornado, including Blake Shelton, Usher, Reba McEntire, Ryan Tedder, and Miranda Lambert. The 200,000 tickets available for the "Healing in the Heartland" concert sold out in minutes when they went on sale on Saturday and it was broadcast on television as a telethon to raise funds for the victims.

"The start of spring marks the beginning of severe weather season and an increased risk of property damage, especially for those in tornado valley or hurricane alley. The incidents in Texas, Oklahoma, and across the midlands this past week are horrible tragedies. It's amazing to watch the nation come together to support this broken area. As the victims start to repair, there are going to be plenty of people with questions about where to start, how to pay for the damage, and what's covered under their insurance policies. While you should take steps now to prepare for such deadly storms, the after the fact questions need expert answers" says Frank N. Darras, America's top insurance lawyer.

A recent study by the Insurance Information Institute found that just 31% of U.S. renters carried renter's insurance. According to Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak, many residents affected by the tornado damage are renters and are even more unlikely than the rest of the nation's renters to have an insurance policy to cover personal property loss. This is due to the fact that the state of Oklahoma has the 3rd highest rental insurance premiums in the nation, causing residents to skip the insurance or be underinsured.

For those insured, Darras advises victims who have had homes damaged by wind, rain, hail, floods and tornadoes to first call their insurance company or agent with their policy number and all relevant information. It's essential that these insurance documents are kept in a waterproof safe so as not to risk losing them in any storm.

After calling the insurance company, victims should do the following:

  • Take photos or video of the damage to property, structure, and contents.
  • Make necessary temporary repairs to prevent further damage, but stay away from making any permanent repairs.
  • Save all receipts, such as those for materials to make temporary repairs, hotel stays, food, etc.
  • If home is unlivable, check to see if coverage for additional living expenses incurred while repairs are being done is covered under their insurance.

"Taking action as soon as possible and cooperating with the insurance company are the keys to having your home repaired quickly and completely. Make sure to ask the insurance company what forms, documents, and data they will need to provide to promptly and fairly process your claim. Gather your evidence to support the value of your home, upgrades, contents, and document any conversations you have with the carrier or their claim personnel. Catastrophic losses are devastating and the claim process is designed to wear you down when you're most vulnerable. Get top insurance help from an expert when the going gets tough," says Darras.