Date: April 18, 2014
For more information contact: J.P. Wieske, Public Information Officer, (608) 266-2493 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week
Madison, WITornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week is April 21-25, 2014.
Insurance Commissioner Ted Nickel is urging Wisconsin residents to be prepared for Wisconsin's severe weather season. Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week is a reminder to check your supplies and plans ensuring your family's safety and preparedness.
"The most important thing is to make sure that you and your family have a safe place to go if a severe weather hits your area. It's also a great time to make sure that your insurance policies are up to date," said Nickel. "If you don't have adequate coverage in place before a storm hits, you may add to the problems you'll face from the storm."
Your policy review should include all insurance coverage, not just a homeowner's policy. Reviewing auto insurance policies will help determine if you're covered for storm damage to your vehicle. Consumers should also consider adding coverage for their living expenses if their homes become uninhabitable due to storm damage. Business owners should consider purchasing business interruption coverage to protect them if storm damage shuts down their business for an extended period of time.
Wisconsin had 16 reported tornadoes in 2013 according to the statistics kept by the National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office. The most active months were July and August with 13 tornadoes in those two months. The National Weather Service in Wisconsin issues 29 severe thunderstorm watches per year on average.
Typical homeowner's policies usually provide coverage for damage that is the result of severe weather such as damage from hail or high winds. An exception is that damage caused by flooding is typically not covered. To protect you against floods, a separate policy must be purchased from the National Flood Insurance Plan (NFIP). Check with your insurance agent or insurance company about signing up for NFIP protection.
Damage resulting from sewer backup and sump pump problems is also rarely covered in homeowner's policies, but may be added through endorsements. Endorsements are added to insurance policies in order to provide additional coverage to the homeowner's policy. OCI encourages consumers to carefully review all endorsements before they are added to a policy.
During Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week Nickel encourages consumers work with their insurance agent to ensure that their level of protection will result in adequate financial protection from losses resulting from severe storms and that the coverage in place is suitable for the risks they face.
Nickel suggests the following steps if your home is damaged by a storm:
- Notify your company or agent as soon as possible in order to begin the insurance claim process.
- Take photographs of the damage for the insurance company.
- Make any necessary repairs to protect yourself from further loss or damage as soon as it is safe to do so.
- Make a list of damaged items and keep all receipts that document the cost of the repairs or the replacement of damaged items.
- Don't throw away furniture or expensive items damaged by the storm. Your insurance adjuster will want to see these.
Additionally, consumers should prepare ahead of time by making sure they have a comprehensive inventory of their personal property. See the Personal Property Home Inventory on OCI's Web site at: oci.wi.gov/pub_list/pi-224.pdf.
For iPhone® and iPad® users, go to the iTunes® App Store and download myHOME Scr.APP.book, an application from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). The free myHOME Scr.APP.book application lets users quickly photograph and capture images, descriptions, bar codes and serial numbers, and then stores them electronically for safekeeping. The application organizes information room by room and even creates a back-up file for e-mail sharing.
More information about homeowner's insurance and filing claims is available in publications such as Consumer's Guide to Homeowner's Insurance, Settling Property Insurance Claims and Personal Property Home Inventory available on OCI's Web site at oci.wi.gov. Hard copies of the publications may be requested by e-mailing email@example.com, by calling 800-236-8517, or by writing OCI Publications, P.O. Box 7873, Madison, WI 53707-7873. More information on the National Flood Insurance Program can be found at www.floodsmart.gov.
Created by the Legislature in 1871, Wisconsin's Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) was vested with broad powers to ensure that the insurance industry responsibly and adequately met the insurance needs of Wisconsin citizens. Today, OCI's mission is to lead the way in informing and protecting the public and responding to its insurance needs.