Florida may be known for its hurricane seasons, but that doesn’t mean the state is impervious to tornadoes. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Florida averaged nearly 66 tornadoes a year. That put the state third in the nation behind Texas and Kansas for the most tornadoes in a yearly period.
It’s estimated that tornadoes accumulate approximately $10 billion in property damage and injure around 1,5000 people every year in the U.S. Because of this, most homeowners have insurance to cover tornado-related damages. Unfortunately, most insurers will do all they can to minimize, delay, or deny coverage for their policy holders.
If you’ve recently had a tornado damage claim denied by your insurance company, it’s recommended you contact an experienced insurance claims attorney.
Tornado Damage Claim Attorney in Tampa, Florida
The good news for home or business owners is that most insurance policies cover tornadoes, unlike other natural disasters such as floods or earthquakes. However, insurance companies will still do all they can to underpay or deny your claim. If this is the case, it’s best that you contact a skilled insurance lawyer for help.
Contact Germain Law Group, P.A. for quality legal counsel on insurance claims and experienced litigation. Michael B. Germain has practiced insurance law in Florida courtrooms for years and can help you obtain the coverage you deserve. Call us now at (813) 835-8888 to set up a free consultation.
Germain Law Group, P.A. represents people throughout the greater Tampa metropolitan area including Brandon, Bradenton, New Port Richey, Clearwater and Temple Terrace.
Overview of Tornado Damage Claims in Florida
- The Extent of Tornado Damage in the U.S.
- Common Losses from Tornadoes
- Does My Insurance Cover Tornadoes?
- What to Do After a Tornado
- Additional Resources
The Extent of Tornado Damage in the U.S.
Tornadoes are natural disasters that form from thunderstorms. They are typically created after a change in wind direction and speed at a high altitude, which causes the air to swirl and create a vortex. These high winds can be incredibly dangerous because they carry damaged property such as broken glass, cars and sometimes whole buildings.
In 2016, the Insurance Information Institute (III) reported that tornadoes resulted in insured losses of up to $14 billion. Not only this, but the number of tornadoes is on the rise in the U.S. The U.S.’s tornado count rose from 971 in 2016 to 1,406 a year later in 2017 according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Tornado intensity is based on the Fujita (EF) scale, which is a classification system the U.S. adopted in 2007. The scale rates the tornado’s severity by the damage caused to your home. Listed below is the requirements for each category of the Fujita (EF) scale.
- F0: Damage sign boards and chimneys
- F1: The roof surface has peeled off or a mobile home has overturned
- F2: The roof has completely been torn off or a mobile home was destroyed;
- F3: If roofs and walls were torn off buildings;
- F4: Some buildings were leveled and blown a considerable distance;
- F5: Many homes were leveled and swept away
Common Losses from Tornadoes
Areas struck by tornadoes often resemble war zones. It’s common for there to be overturned cars, leveled buildings, as well as fields of debris if the tornado is at a high level. Your home or business could still sustain serious damage even if it’s a low-level tornado. A tornado can cause damage that seems subtle but is incredibly significant such as damage to roof sealant strips.
Listed below are some common losses people suffer from after a tornado.
- Roof damage such as broken or missing shingles;
- Damage to walls and floods including cracks;
- House frame damage which includes broken welds on beams and trusses;
- Shattered windows;
- Dented or lost gutters;
- Garage door damage;
- Fencing damage;
- Uprooting landscaping;
- Chimney damage;
- Roof vent issues; or
- Damages to the siding of your home or business
Does My Homeowners or Business Insurance Cover Tornadoes?
Tornadoes are unique to other natural disaster because they are generally covered under homeowner’s or property insurance unlike hurricanes or flooding. Your homeowner’s insurance should cover wind damage to your home as well as rain, hail and lightning. Additionally, your insurance should cover temporary lodging and items lost from the storm.
It’s important to understand that not all policies are the same. It’s recommended you thoroughly review your policy to see if you’re covered for tornado damages. Your coverage could only partially pay for your damages and leave the rest of the cost to you.
Insurance companies can sometimes give you issues when it comes to tornado damage. Some adjusters will utilize confusing verbiage or state other circumstances caused the damage so they can deny, delay or underpay your claim. You can keep your insurance company accountable by hiring a qualified insurance claims attorney.
A lawyer can examine your policy to see if you’re covered for tornado damage. They can then draft and file a claim for you. If the insurance company denies or underpays the claim, your attorney can even collect evidence as to how the damage happened and litigate for you.
What to Do in Case of a Tornado
The first step is to be informed. You should check your local weather channel for tornado watches and warnings regularly. If there’s a tornado on the way, it’s your immediate priority to take shelter. You can find a city sanctioned shelter or go to a family or friend’s house that is more secure. Once the storm has passed, it’s recommended you do the following:
- Document all damage to your property and possessions;
- Make lists of what is missing;
- Take photos or videos of damaged property;
- Don’t throw anything away;
- Turn off the gas and water;
- Move wet items to a dry location;
- Make temporary repairs such as covering roof holes or blocking broken windows; and
- Save receipts for the costs of temporary repairs
Doing these steps will expediate and help your claim. Documentation of your damages can be used as evidence if litigation is necessary.
Tornadoes – Visit the official website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to learn more about tornadoes. Access their site to learn how to prepare for a tornado, what to do during a tornado, safety after a tornado and how to enter your flooded home.
Enhanced F Scale for Tornado Damage – Visit the official website of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to learn more about the EF scale. Access the site to learn the difference between the Fujita scale and the EF scale as well as damage indicators.
Insurance Claims Lawyer for Tornadoes in Hillsborough County, FL
A tornado could potentially uproot your home and life. If your house or business is insured, you should not have to pay for any tornado-related damages. Instead, call Germain Law Group, P.A. to assess your policy today. Michael B. Germain is an accomplished insurance claims attorney with years of experience under his belt.
Call (813) 835-8888 now to set up a free consultation. Germain Law Group, P.A. accepts clients throughout the greater Hillsborough County area including Pinellas County, Miami-Dade County, Polk County, Paso County, Orange County, Sarasota County, and Sumter County.
This article was last updated on June 21, 2019.