The right business and home insurance can offer shelter from tornado damage

Crawford Frazer

The monster tornado that hit Alabama in April 2011 and Missouri in May 2011 reminded the nation about the destruction these storms can wreak. Tornadoes can strike anywhere, within the notorious "tornado alley" or well outside it.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, there are about 1,200 tornadoes in the U.S. each year. Check your home insurance policy to see how far your coverage extends. It may not provide everything you need.

Taking cover under your insurance policy

Most home and business insurance policies do cover wind damage, including that caused by tornadoes. However, the Insurance Information Institute notes that many policyholders need extra coverage to fully replace the buildings and property they lose.

  • Additional living expenses: Home insurance policies generally include additional living expenses ALE) coverage, which pays for the costs you incur, like hotel rooms and meals out, while your home is unlivable, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Yet ALE coverage includes limitations; be sure you know what they are.
  • Business interruption: This kind of coverage reimburses you for lost income while your business recovers, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Be sure you know when it kicks in and how long it lasts.
  • Cash value vs. replacement value: A cash-value insurance policy will cover the market value of your building and its contents, accounting for depreciation. However, if you have to rebuild and replace everything, you'll need replacement-value coverage.
  • Auto insurance coverage: Consider adding comprehensive coverage to your policy. It covers weather-related damage, including that caused by tornadoes.

Safeco Insurance recommends reviewing your policy each year. Construction costs probably will change, and your policy may need to change to reflect the current cost of rebuilding your home or business.

Tips for reducing damage

Even with the right business or home insurance coverage, you'll want to do as much as you can on your own to protect your property. Safeco emphasizes that there's no such thing as a completely "tornado-proof" building. But you can take steps to reduce damage from high winds:

  • The roof: If any part of your roof needs repair, address it immediately. Select materials designed to withstand high winds.
  • The windows: Your entire house can benefit from impact-resistant windows.
  • The doors: First, anchor your door frames securely to the wall framing. Second, each door should have three hinges. Third, the deadbolt lock needs to be at least one inch long.

The Insurance Information Institute adds that you should move your cars inside a garage or carport if possible. If you have patio furniture or similar items, move those inside, too.

Keep an updated home insurance inventory of your possessions in the event that you need to report lost or damaged items to your insurer.

See how much you could save today on your home insurance. Get your free home insurance quotes today!