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    How True Texas Home Insurance Handles Tornado Claims

    Posted by Ron Wadley on May 28, 2024 3:01:30 PM

    As the sun rose on Sunday after the string of tornadoes hit the Red River counties of North Texas, Mary began to read the stories of fellow Texans who live close to her were recounting the harrowing moments of the sound of the freight train that comes with tornadoes. These moments were tragic for some, but could have been much worse seeing the damage left in the wake of the destructive force. While looking at pictures and video of the damage, her mind wondered how her own standard homeowners insurance policy would take care of her if the worst had happened to her. 

    Mary lives in Denton and was struck by the possibility of facing a similar disaster scenario feels very daunting. She desperately needed to understand how her insurance policy would support her in such an event. Mary had an overwhelming desire to be prepared and reached out to our office since we are her agent. We thought it would be helpful to all Texans to understand how home insurance protects from the aftermath of a tornado while it is fresh on many minds.

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    It is important to understand the claims process and the specifics of coverage for tornado damage. Since Mary's experience and fears fall in line with other questions Texans have, we will move through the steps involved in filing a tornado damage claim and highlight the benefits of having True Texas Home Insurance at the end. It's also important to note that we are looking at standard home insurance policies that are not always sold to Texans on the Gulf Coast that require a separate windstorm policy.

    Home Insurance Basics In Tornado Prone Areas

    Texas homeowners policies are designed to help families clean up after a tornado, rebuild their homes, and sustain them through the recovery process. While that sounds simple, it is not because of the different needs in each phase. These policies are specifically crafted to handle each step of the process to make sure that homeowners have the support they need when it matters most.

    One of the key elements of comprehensive coverage is that it is considered replacement cost coverage. This type of coverage ensures that homeowners can rebuild their homes to the same standard without worrying about finding extra cash. In a state prone to big weather claims, having replacement cost coverage is essential for recovering from tornado damage. Especially if you are like Mary and live in an area that can be classified as part of tornado alley.

    How True Texas Home Insurance Handles Tornado Claims

    High-Risk Areas and Tornadoes

    Texas averages more tornadoes per year than any other state, making it a high-risk area for these natural disasters. That factors that primarily contribute to it are our geographical location, spring and fall climate patterns, and the prevalence of those big supercell thunderstorms that love to popup at the worst times. But it is also important to remember that certain areas of Texas see more frequent tornadoes due to their specific environmental conditions.

    The Panhandle has the summer storms that roll off the mountains creating spectacular storms. The Coastal area can see tornadoes that spawn from hurricanes. The Red River Counties and Dallas-Ft Worth see dramatic temperature changes in the spring and fall which can produce those big supercells. Understanding the risk in your area can help you prepare and ensure your home insurance policy provides adequate protection.

    Replacement Cost vs. Actual Cash Value

    When dealing with tornado damage, it's important to understand the differences between replacement cost and actual cash value (ACV). Replacement cost covers the expense of rebuilding your home or replacing possessions at current prices, without factoring in depreciation. ACV, on the other hand, pays out based on the depreciated value of your home or possessions.

    Knowing these differences is critical when replacing your home and possessions after a tornado. Replacement cost coverage provides more comprehensive protection, ensuring you can fully recover from the disaster even though the average cost of everything has continued to climb.

    Understanding How Home Insurance Pays Tornado Claims

    A Texas home insurance policy typically covers three main areas in response to a tornado: dwelling, personal property, and additional living expenses. Dwelling coverage pays for the repair or rebuild of your home, personal property coverage replaces your belongings, and additional living expenses cover costs incurred if your home becomes uninhabitable.

    Other important coverages include building ordinance or extended replacement cost, which help with the cost of site cleanup and any rebuild requirements due to city ordinances or building codes. Having replacement cost coverage for both your home and possessions ensures you can fully recover from tornado damage. Let's look at three specific places where your standard policy addresses coverage for wind damage from a tornado.

    Dwelling Coverage

    Dwelling coverage is vital in homeowner's insurance policies when rebuilding after a tornado. While Mary had heard of dwelling coverage, she didn't really know what it meant. The dwelling coverage limit is calculated for replacement cost policies in Texas. It is the amount of money that should be needed to rebuild your home. Mary asked a great question that is noteworthy for all Texas homeowners. This calculation should include debris removal to ensure your property is cleared and ready for rebuilding.

    Extended replacement cost coverage can be involved in rebuilding your home as well. Since reconstruction costs continue to climb, it is also important to have protection that covers any cost overruns that occur during the rebuild. This coverage ensures you have enough funds to complete the reconstruction of your home without facing financial strain or a second mortgage.

    Personal Property Coverage

    Personal property coverage is designed to replace your contents that are lost as a result of a tornado. This insurance covers all of the personal belongings that someone like Mary has in her home. This can include furniture, electronics, clothing, and even the contents of your refrigerator. However, expensive items like jewelry or guns may require special coverage to ensure they are fully protected. When the actual cost of an item like a wedding ring exceeds a specified amount, the amount of money that you receive for replacement will be capped at the limit your policy documents specify. Understanding the extent of personal property insurance and the types of belongings covered can help you ensure you have adequate protection for all your possessions.

    Additional Living Expenses

    Additional living expenses coverage (ALE) reimburses policyholders for costs incurred when their home becomes uninhabitable due to a tornado. This coverage can include clothes, hotel bills, meals, and even pet boarding fees if necessary. The goal is to help you maintain your standard of living while your home is being repaired. ALE coverage is typically a percentage of the dwelling insurance amount, providing you with sufficient funds to cover temporary living expenses until your home is habitable again. Mary found this particular homeowners insurance coverage comforting!

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    Coverage Limits and Options

    Tornado insurance comes with various coverage limits and some options. Mary wanted to make sure that she knew the ins and outs of her options. We started with understanding the difference between actual cash value coverage and replacement cost coverage for personal property. Not being able to replenish the contents of your home is simply unacceptable when it saves you a few pennies per day.

    Building ordinance coverage is another line item that you want to have on your policy that can help with the cost of site cleanup or rebuild requirements due to city ordinances or building codes. This will help folks like Mary have as much of their dwelling coverage available for rebuild as possible.

    The other key option that should be secured is extended replacement cost coverage. This option is important to combat any inflation that happens after your policy is written. This money is available so that your house is fully replaced after a tornado, even if the rebuild costs exceed your policy dwelling limits. When tornadoes strike and supplies and labor can be in short supply, this will make sure that you are fully rebuilding your home.

    Filing an Insurance Claim After Tornado Damage

    The goal of an insurance carrier is to help Texas homeowners recover after a tornado. Given the chaos of the moment, there are certain things that you can do ahead of time to make the process go more smoothly. We advised Mary that it is important to have an inventory of her possessions before a big event occurs. This is done to avoid forgetfulness in the aftermath when trying to compile a list of your possessions.

    Insurance adjusters will work on-site quickly to address needs and help start the cleanup process. Being prepared and understanding the claims process can help you navigate this challenging time more effectively to make sure that you receive the support you need to recover. Having insurance documents and that inventory we mentioned in a cloud storage option like Google Drive can help immensely.


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    The Claims Process

    The claims process typically involves three steps: contacting your insurance provider or agent to initiate a claim, using available filing methods (online, via app, or phone) to report the damage and providing clear documentation so that process can move smoothly. Understanding this will make waiting for the adjuster's assessment and completion of the claim process much better for both you and the insurance carrier. Mary thought this made sense.

    We also pointed out to her that many large insurance companies will provide immediate checks to cover temporary shelter and needs like clothes, toiletries, and food. This is one way that your tornado insurance coverage shines in a terrible situation. But it's important to be patient, as the entire process can take  a year or more to complete. Mary now felt like she had a better understanding of how her standard home insurance policy benefits her.

    Get True Texas Home Insurance

    True Texas Home Insurance is here to offer Texans replacement cost coverage for both your home and possessions whether it is for a tornado or other extreme weather events. The policy focuses on the value the homeowner receives no matter which insurance company your policy is written with. This is to make sure that your needs are addressed following a claim, just like Mary was worried about. True Texas Home Insurance is available to Texans to provide customized coverage tailored to your specific needs.

    Working With Insurance For Texans

    TRUE Texas Home Insurance can only be obtained at Insurance For Texans. Working with a local, independent insurance agent offers several advantages, including personalized service and a deep understanding of the specific risks and needs of Texas homeowners. The agents at Insurance For Texans work for you, not a large insurance company. Since we shop the marketplace for you you know that you are receiving the best possible coverage options at the best price. Click The Button Below To See How We Can Help After a Tornado or any other claim situation that you might have.


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    Topics: windstorms, limits of coverage, TRUE Texas Home Insurance, basics of home insurance, tornado insurance