CHICAGO — Get ready, says the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI), the nation is entering the peak months for tornado and large hailstorm activity. While it is impossible to predict how severe the weather will be during the next few months, PCI urges homeowners to take precautions such as putting together an emergency supply kit and making sure their auto and homeowners insurance policies are up to date.
Tornado activity was relatively mild during the first quarter of the year with a total of 104 preliminary reports. However, as temperatures rise in Tornado Alley the number of thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hailstorms will quickly increase. As an example, last April there were 218 tornado reports according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Storm Prediction Center.
“Violent wind storms, flooding, and large hailstorms this time of year cause billions of dollars in property damage,” said Christopher Hackett, PCI’s senior director of personal lines policy. “The threat of severe weather is real, no matter where you live in the country. This highlights the importance of having a severe weather plan, emergency kit, NOAA weather radio, and other emergency supplies. It is equally important homeowners, renters, and business owners conduct a review of their insurance policies and discuss coverage options with their insurance agent or company to make sure they are adequately covered.”
Polling commissioned by PCI over the years reveals that many people may be overestimating their preparedness for natural disasters and severe weather, based on actual steps they are taking to be ready. In 2017 a survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of PCI found that only 28 percent of Americans had conducted an annual insurance check up to make sure they are adequately covered and only 15 percent had talked with their agent or insurer about additional coverages such as flood insurance.
“This gap in preparedness could be the difference in how smooth your recovery will be in the aftermath of a storm or other natural disaster,” said Hackett. “The best way to reduce the chance you’re surprised if you sustain damage due to a severe weather event or natural disaster, is to talk with your insurance agent or company each year to go over your coverage.”
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.
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.