AUSTIN- Heavy rains and tornadoes ripped through Texas, devastating communities and leaving homes and businesses destroyed during the holidays. The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) says the first step to recovery is contacting your insurer to begin the claims process.
“It was a violent weekend in Texas and our thoughts are with those who lost loved ones and have been displaced from their homes,” said PCI’s senior vice president of public affairs Jessica Hanna. “Severe weather can happen anywhere at any time and insurers are standing by ready to help homeowners, motorists, and business owners start the recovery process,” said Hanna.
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.
PCI Tips If You Experience a Loss from a Storm:
• Secure property from further damage or theft.
• Contact your insurance agent or company representative as soon as possible to report damage.
• Inventory losses and photograph damage to provide to your insurance adjustor. Make sure you save all receipts.
• If you are a business owner, keep detailed records of business activity that is negatively affected due to the tornado and keep a list of extra expenses during the interruption. Prepare records to show the income from the business both before and after the loss.
• Many standard homeowners and renter’s policies provide for reimbursement of additional living expenses when the property is determined to be uninhabitable due to damage. This provision helps in paying for increases to necessary living expenses such as temporary housing and restaurant meals. In addition, extra expenses such as overnight parking and laundry services may also be covered. Additional living expense coverage does not pay for all living expenses, so contact your insurance company or agent for a list of what your policy will cover.
• Be careful about unscrupulous contractors following a natural disaster. Contact your insurer, agent or local business bureau for references on potential contractors and ask for certificates of liability and workers compensation before signing contracts
PCI Pre-Storm Tips:
• Conduct a detailed inventory of your possessions including receipts, descriptions and photos of your home's contents.
• Keep your insurance policy and agent information along with other important information with you or in a secure place.
• Keep a cell phone charged and with you for emergencies.
• If you have one, keep a laptop computer close by. Most insurance companies allow claims reports to be submitted via the Internet.
For more information, such as storm-related emergency claims numbers and answers to frequently asked questions, please visit PCI’s Tornado Headquarters or follow us on social media @PCIAA for more important safety tips.