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A "stuck" weather system has led to an especially busy tornado season in the Midwest, with over 500 tornadoes reported in just the past 30 days, from Texas to Pennsylvania. And the storm activity has also led to record to record flooding in portions of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Oklahoma, and seven deaths in Iowa, Missouri, and Ohio.
The widespread damage has caught many homeowners off-guard, leaving them to wonder whether their insurance policies cover weather-related damage. Here are five things to keep in mind when it comes to natural disasters like tornadoes and homeowner's insurance coverage.
First things first: You want to be sure everyone is safe, and has received medical attention if need be. Then you can get started on contacting your insurance company and assessing any property damage. You'll want to document, as much as possible, the damage with photos, video, or any other method, and you may need to make some reasonable and necessary temporary repairs to prevent further damage.
Many home insurance policies now cover storm damage to solar panels, and even damage that a defective solar panel may cause to your home. However, some policies may differentiate between panels installed on your roof and ground mounted panels. So, check your policy to see if you're covered.
And what if you're renting a home or apartment? Of course, the property owner may have their own homeowner's insurance policy that will repair the home itself, but will that cover all of your belongings? It's always wise to have your own renter's insurance, so double check your policy to see if covers tornado, storm, flooding, or other natural disaster-related damage.
Of course, this is true for just about any insurance policy, but it's too late to get flood damage coverage after the flood has occurred. So, if you're lucky enough to have been missed by all the tornadoes and flooding so far this season, now may not be the worst time to make sure you're covered.
Most of us want to be reimbursed for any damages as soon as possible. But sometimes life, literally, can get in the way, and there are more pressing concerns after a tornado rips through your neighborhood. While insurance companies understand this, most will want to be contacted immediately about storm damage and may have deadlines to do so.
If you're having trouble filing an insurance claim, or your insurance provider has denied coverage, contact a local insurance attorney for help.