The Institute for Business and Home Safety advises homeowners how to get back on track, get claims filed and paid, and ultimately rebuild or repair after a tornado.
1. Contact your agent, broker or insurance company and report your loss as quickly as you can. Have your policy number handy as well as specific information about the damage involved. Jot down the claim adjuster's name and phone number.
2. Be careful when entering damaged areas. If there is extensive damage to your house, contact local government officials to determine whether your house is safe enough to enter. Report downed power lines or gas leaks to your utility company. Keep electricity off if your house has been flooded.
3. Protect your property from further damage. Board up windows and salvage undamaged items. Ask your insurance company what they will pay for when it comes to protecting your belongings.
4. Make a written list of damaged items, but don’t dispose of them until the insurance adjuster has examined them. Photograph or videotape the damaged items. Gather together any available receipts for the items.
5. Keep all receipts for hotel rooms, meals, and any clothing or personal items purchased while your house is being repaired or rebuilt.
6. Complete and return your claim forms. After you contact your insurance company to notify them of the damage to your home, you are required to send your claim forms within a certain number of days, which varies from state to state.
7. The check for repairs to your home is usually made out to both you and your mortgage lender. Lenders generally put the money in an escrow account and then pay for the repairs as the work is completed. Contact your lender to discuss the contractor bids and details of the repair process.
The IHBS recommends the following improvements for homes in tornado-prone areas. Install "impact-resistant" window systems and impact-resistant laminated glazing materials for sliding glass doors. Replace doorframes or reinforce them, and install well-anchored and dead-bolted entry doors. If your garage door is more than eight feet wide, retrofit it with stiffeners and stronger tracking systems to resist higher winds.
Use a roofing system designed to withstand high winds and that includes well-sealed sheathing and braced gables. Firmly anchor the points where the roof and the foundation meet the walls of your house. For two-story homes, the upper story should likewise be firmly anchored to the lower framing.