How To Keep Your House Covered In Case Of A Natural Disaster

Mar 26, 2018

Warmer spring temperatures mean an increased potential for severe weather, including tornadoes. 

If you own a home then you  want to make sure you’re protected in case of any emergency.

This is the time of the year when frequent temperature changes from day to day start to make people nervous about what might come next.

Illinois’ tornado season is typically from March to May, but as we’ve seen in recent years, some of our most destructive episodes happened at the end of February. Tornadoes also pop up in the fall on occasion, as well.

When a tornado touches the ground, almost everything in its path is gone.

The Leap day tornado in 2012 touched down just before dawn with Harrisburg receiving the most damage.

At full strength it developed into an EF4 tornado 275 yards wide and reached wind speeds of 180mph.

Many houses, apartments and business were leveled that morning leaving residents without a place to live. Once the debris is gone the rebuilding begins and that is why it’s important to know what kind and how much insurance coverage you need.

But how do you make sure you’re protected? I sat down with a local insurance agent Ken Trimble from Country Financial in Jonesboro.

“The best way is honestly to meet with your agent every year, go over everything, go over any changes you might have made, sit down and have a conversation and actually think, 'What would it take for me to actually replace this?'”

But first it's important to understand what kind of coverage you need. There are two main categories to pay attention to: dwelling and personal property.

“Dwelling is going to cover your actual dwelling like the house you actually live in, personal property is going to cover the stuff you fill your house with, your couches, your clothes, your TV’s, your silverware, every single thing you’ll go out and buy and things you’ll receive for Christmas, every single thing of that sort, where as your dwelling coverage is literally covering the components it takes to make a house.”

On the policy there’s a different amount of coverage for each category, but Trimble says when it comes to your personal property sometimes that might not be enough.

“Jewelry, anything above $2,500 per piece of jewelry, so a lot of times your wedding rings and your more finer pieces of jewelry your going to want to make sure you schedule those on your on to your policy.”

Some of the more expensive items might require you to schedule them or add them on to the policy because the standard amount of coverage is less than the amount you purchased it for.

Trimble says for most of his clients, the standard per item of jewelry is $2,500 per piece, however a lot of diamond rings will cost more than that to replace it.

“When you schedule it you bring us in basically a receipt from when you purchased it or an appraisal, if its an older ring its going to have to be an appraisal, firearms and related firearm equipment $2,500, electronics and such $5,000, recreational vehicles are $500, which that’s not going to replace most of your recreational vehicles.”

But how do you account for everything in your home after a disaster? You have to make a list, a very long list, but there are some options.

“You basically get several like sheets of paper and you have to go through and list everything in your house, you may think aw that’s nothing but when you actually sit down and you don’t have everything in front of you and try to think of every little knick knack that you own that your trying to replace it a little more difficult.”

Trimble has a suggestion to make this task a little easier.

“What I tell my clients to do they can do is take a camera take a video camera or some sort of video, go through every room every drawer - pull it out and take a quick video of everything you have and what I tell them I can do is they can either put it in a lock box or I can keep it in their file here so if something happens we can plug it in and they can go through pretty easily and they can write down everything they had.”

Once you've accounted for the inside, it's important to go outside, too. Trimble says there’s a difference between the cost of a house and the cost of building a house.

“We have clients that come in and say well I only paid $65,000 for the house so I only want $65,000 worth of insurance, which that’s fine we can do that but what they need to understand is that house while it may only cost $65,000, to replace the house is going to cost a good deal more.”

That means you shouldn’t be shocked when you look at you policy and the amount for dwelling is more than what you paid for your house.

We know what it cost to rebuild but there’s options for covering what type of damage you will be covered for.

You can choose to cover specific types of damage you think you might be vulnerable to depending on the location of your house.

This can be referred to as called broad form, named perils, open perils or something similar. For a little more you can choose to cover everything typically called all perils or all risk, which has some benefits.

“We have broad form and we have all perils, every company labels them differently, the biggest difference and issue I’ve seen between the two are with broad form the main things that’s not covered is a lot of times you have these straight line winds that will come in and they’ll get underneath your shingles and lift your shingles up that rain will come in and get underneath, the single goes back down and then you have water damage to the interior of your house, while the damage to your roof will be covered the water damage inside is not. Whereas if you do the all perils on the dwelling that would be covered. "

Let’s say a tornado wiped out your house and its time to rebuild. This is where things can get tricky.There’s replacement cost and market value. Market value is what the house would cost if it were for sale on the market.Replacement cost is how much it cost to rebuild the house.

“The way it would work with our company is if you build the exact same house in the exact same spot that’s how you would get your full replacement, now if you were to go buy another house you would receive just the actual cash value which is the total cost of rebuild and they depreciate it based upon the age, the shape that’s its in, they would depreciate it down and that’s the amount of money you would get, the only way you get the full replacement value is if you actually rebuild the exact house in the exact spot.”

Trimble says he has a preference that works best for everyone involved.

“I generally don’t write broad form I just write the all perils just because whenever it does happen, it’s a complete mess.”

Once its time to rebuild and you decide you want to change locations of your house, Trimble says there’s something you should keep in mind.

“If you decide to build in another place, you can do that they’ll pay to build the same house in another location however they do not cover the purchase of the property like the land, that’s not covered they will not give you money towards that.”

While your house is being rebuilt you and your family also need a place to stay. That’s called additional living expenses, which is something you want to make sure you have.

“With our policies it’s 20%, its built into the policy, I think that’s industry standard, basically the additional living expenses what that covers is so while your house is uninhabitable and you can’t live there, that’s the money they use to pay to put you up, you know feed you, make it so you can live obviously and have some sort of quality of life while your life’s being put back together over here.”

That’s a lot of options and information to digest. That’s why Trimble suggest meeting yearly with your agent to make sure your covered in case of an emergency.