Mansell, Engel & Cole

Has your insurer left you out in the cold after a damaging storm?

Like many in Oklahoma, you understand that tornados and high-wind storms are a way of life, especially during spring. Recently, a rare summer tornado impressed upon you the need for preparation that may go beyond battening down the hatches.

You have certainly taken steps to keep your family and belongings safe in the event of a damaging storm. You have a safety plan that includes emergency supplies, food and water, and battery-powered flashlights and radio. Perhaps you have even landscaped your property to prevent trees from damaging your house or falling onto power lines. And of course, you have insurance.

What does your policy cover?

Having adequate homeowner's insurance is something that takes careful monitoring. The cost of building materials fluctuates frequently, and the worst-case scenario would be needing repairs that your policy can't cover, especially if your home incurs devastating damage. Making regular checks on the value of your policy may help you avoid such a situation.

Insurers also recommend you keep a record of the valuables in your home. Tornados and high-wind storms may cause more than structural damage to a home. If your roof collapses or windows shatter, furniture or other belongings may also suffer. You may keep a written inventory of your valuables or a video log that you can access in the event you need to make a claim.

What does your policy not cover?

Depending on where you live and the level of risk involved, your policy may contain many exclusions, such as damage from a wind storm. It is vital that you understand those exclusions well before an emergency so you can add coverage if needed. Reading your policy carefully and asking questions may prevent unpleasant and untimely surprises. Does your policy provide additional living expenses if your house is unlivable? Will your policy cover damages from a power outage? What is your deductible?

Even if you know all of the answers and fully understand your policy's advantages and limitations, you may be shocked when your insurance adjuster offers far less than you expected or need for repairs on your home after a storm. This may be the time when seeking legal advice could be to your advantage. An attorney who successfully handles the claims of many who have been treated unfairly by their insurance companies can offer a solid strategy for seeking the benefits you deserve.

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