American Property Casualty Insurance Association
  • Staff Contact: Jeffrey Brewer     
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  • April 8, 2015
  • As Peak Tornado Season Nears, Most Midwesterners Not Well Prepared for Natural Disasters or Severe Weather
  • Few have Taken Key Steps for Preparedness

    CHICAGO – With severe thunderstorms and possibly tornadoes in the forecast for portions of the central U.S. today and Thursday, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) encourages homeowners, renters and business owners to take appropriate steps to be prepared by planning in advance where they will take cover and maintaining an emergency storm kit.

    Tornadoes and damaging wind storms can occur rapidly, with little warning which makes advance preparation critical for residents in the Midwest. However, a recent survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of PCI shows that residents in the Midwest are least likely to feel they are well prepared for natural disasters or severe weather. The survey conducted online within the United States from March 20-24, 2015 among 2,021 adults ages 18 and older found that 56 percent of Midwesterners say they are not well prepared for the aftermath of natural disasters or severe weather compared to 49 percent of Americans overall.

    One of the keys to being prepared is having a disaster response plan that includes an emergency supply kit with food, water, first aid, as well as safely storing important documents and having a family communications plan with agreed upon meeting places. The survey found that only 16 percent of Midwesterners have taken these steps compared to 21 percent of Americans overall.

    However Midwesterners were most likely, 76 percent, to say they have enough insurance to cover home damage or a total loss in the case of a natural disaster or severe weather event. But only 25 percent have conducted a yearly insurance review of their insurance policy and limits.

    “This gap in preparedness could be the difference in how smooth your recovery will be in the aftermath of a storm,” said Chris Hackett, director - personal lines policy for PCI. “The best way to reduce the chance you’re surprised if you sustain damage due to a severe weather event, is to talk with your insurance agent or company each year to go over your coverage. Additionally, there are a few simple steps people can take in advance of a storm to make the recovery process easier. We encourage consumers to know the severe weather warning signals used in their community and be prepared to take cover when alerted. Maintaining an emergency storm kit with a radio, flashlight, batteries and first-aid items is the first step in preparation. Other steps include conducting tornado drills with your family and ensuring that your property is adequately insured.”

    The survey had a positive finding in that 89 percent of Americans say having adequate insurance should be part of being prepared for natural disasters or severe weather. “Take time this spring to get prepared, Talk with your insurer to become more knowledgeable regarding your coverage and make sure your family has the right amount of protection. It’s important to be prepared both financially and physically for severe weather,” said Hackett. 

    Most tornado, windstorm, hail and similar severe weather-related losses are covered by either homeowners, renters or commercial insurance policies. Tornado losses to a home are covered by the “windstorm” peril under the homeowners insurance policy.  Renters insurance also provides coverage to policyholder possessions under this peril.  Business owners are covered under their commercial policies.  Protection from windstorm or hail damage for cars is covered under the “comprehensive” portion of the automobile insurance policy.

    Three Mistakes to Avoid This Tornado Season

    Mistake #1: Fail to conduct yearly insurance review

    Conducting an annual review of your insurance policy helps to ensure that your home and belongings are fully protected. It provides you with the opportunity to address potential gaps in coverage. Additionally it enables you to talk with your insurance company or agent, ask questions and gain a better understanding regarding your coverage. Over the course of a year, you may have made upgrades, completed renovations or purchased new items that could impact the amount of homeowners insurance coverage you need. You may be pleasantly surprised that it is fairly quick and easy to conduct the annual review.

    Mistake #2: Don’t take time to understand their coverage

    About the last thing most people want to do is read their insurance policy. Unfortunately after every major event some residents are caught financially unprepared and there is the all too common refrain – I thought I was covered! While insurance covers many situations, it is important to talk with your insurance company or agent regarding how your coverage works. You may have valuables that require a special endorsement to the policy or you may want to add sewer back up coverage for an added measure of protection. By doing a home inventory and conducting an annual insurance review you can ask questions about your policy and ensure you have adequate coverage for your circumstances.

    Mistake #3: Fail to make a home inventory

    Developing a home inventory may seem like a tedious task, but after a natural disaster you will be glad you took the time to create it. The inventory lists all of your home’s contents so you can quickly and easily account for all of your belongings and report the loss to your insurance company. Without it you may have to rely on your memory to determine what you lost.

    Begin the process by doing a home inventory of your possessions by checking with your insurance company, it may have tools available to assist you. Additionally there are other resources you can use such as the Insurance Information Institute’s Know Your Stuff Home Inventory

    Inventories can be completed in a variety of ways using online tools, apps or specially-designed software. However, you can also take the DIY approach with a spreadsheet or the trusty pen and paper method. With cell phone cameras and video being so common, many people simply walk through their home and create a visual record of everything they own.

    Survey Methodology:

    This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of PCI from March 20-24, 2015 among 2,021 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Jeffrey Brewer, vice president, public affairs for PCI.

    About The Harris Poll

    Over the last 5 decades, Harris Polls have become media staples. With comprehensive experience and precise technique in public opinion polling, along with a proven track record of uncovering consumers’ motivations and behaviors, The Harris Poll has gained strong brand recognition around the world. The Harris Poll offers a diverse portfolio of proprietary client solutions to transform relevant insights into actionable foresight for a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer packaged goods. Contact us for more information.

  • PCI promotes and protects the viability of a competitive private insurance market for the benefit of consumers and insurers. PCI is composed of nearly 1,000 member companies, representing the broadest cross section of insurers of any national trade association. PCI members write more than $195 billion in annual premium, 35 percent of the nation's property casualty insurance. Member companies write 42 percent of the U.S. automobile insurance market, 28 percent of the homeowners market, 33 percent of the commercial property and liability market and 35 percent of the private workers compensation market.
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