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Consumer Tips

Severe Weather

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Safety and insurance tips

Severe weather can cause a considerable amount of damage to your home, car and property. So, how can you make sure your belongings are protected in the event of severe weather?  

Before the storm:

  • Be sure you have adequate coverage and deductibles that are reasonable for your needs. Examine your homeowner's or renter’s coverage and auto insurance policies with your agent and family.
  • Tornadoes are considered "wind-storms" and damages caused by them are covered under homeowner's insurance policies. If a tornado damages your car, protection is provided under the comprehensive portion of your auto policy.
  • Compile a detailed written inventory of your home and belongings and supplement that inventory with a videotape or photographs. Keep the inventory off-premises in a safety deposit box. This will assist in settling claims.
  • Check on the necessity and availability of flood insurance in your area. Flood insurance is not included in typical homeowner and renter’s insurance policies. Visit www.floodsmart.gov and/or call the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) at 1-800-638-6620 to learn about flood insurance.
  • Check to see if your policy has "loss of use" or "additional living expense" coverage. This will help pay for temporary housing if you can’t stay in your home due to damage caused by a storm. Many policies cover such expenses up to a stated amount.
  • Create an emergency plan, including places the family will gather in response to emergency weather alerts.
During the storm:
  • When at home or in a building and threatening weather approaches, go to the basement or interior hall. Stay away from windows.
  • Keep on hand basic supplies like water, food, flashlights and a battery-operated radio.
  • If you’re in a car or mobile home when a tornado approaches, leave immediately. If you cannot locate immediate underground shelter, lie flat in a gully or ditch. Do not get under an overpass or a bridge. Do not try to outrun a tornado.

After the storm:

  • Call your insurance company as soon as you can.
  • Try to protect your property and salvage what you can. Do not endanger yourself.
  • Closely inspect property and cars for damage. Note and photograph any damage and losses. This will assist in settling claims.
  • Be sure your insurance representative knows how to contact you if you can’t stay in your home.
  • Do not make a hasty settlement. If necessary, seek assistance from a third party such as an agent, public adjuster, or attorney.
  • Be sure everything is considered in your claim. Back-up claims with written estimates, receipts, and photographs.
  • Beware of home repair rip-offs. Carefully check the background of contractors and others who promise "cheap" repairs. Don’t pay the entire cost of repairs up-front, and try to only do business with local, established contractors. Before signing any contract, read the entire document, and contact your local Better Business Bureau or the Ohio Attorney General’s Office to see if the company has a good customer service record.

What if I have a problem with the insurance agent or the company?

Call the Ohio Department of Insurance at 1-800-686-1526. The Department regulates agents and companies that are licensed to sell insurance in Ohio. The Department’s Consumer Services representatives can answer your insurance questions and investigate your complaints about an insurance company or agent.

The State of Ohio is an Equal Opportunity Employer

Ohio Department of Insurance
50 W. Town Street, Third Floor - Suite 300
Columbus, Ohio  43215
John Kasich, Governor | Mary Taylor, Lt. Governor / Director
General Info: 614-644-2658 | Consumer Hotline: 800-686-1526
Fraud Hotline: 800-686-1527 | OSHIIP Hotline: 800-686-1578