When a tornado hits a home or other property, the damage can be devastating. Strong winds can tear off roofs and ruin everything inside a home or commercial structure. After the storm passes, property owners turn to their insurance companies in order to get back what they have lost. Unfortunately, in order to save money, these insurance companies can delay, underpay, or deny property damage claims.
What is a tornado?
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a tornado is a violently rotating column of air that comes from a thunderstorm and makes contact with the ground. Tornadoes vary in wind intensity and how much damage they cause. The enhanced Fujita (EF) scale measures the intensity of each storm, meticulously rating tornadoes on a scale of zero through five, based on how bad the wind damage will be. The EF scale incorporates 28 individual damage indicators, including damage to trees, homes, small business buildings, and even shopping malls. For example, an F-1 tornado can have winds up to 110 miles per hour and can cause moderate wind damage to a community, while an F-5 tornado can have winds that reach over 200 miles per hour and can destroy an entire community.
How and Why Do Tornadoes Form?
When and why a tornado forms is not completely understood by scientists. Most agree that they result from a storm system called a supercell. These incredibly severe thunderstorms have winds that can reach speeds of 100 miles per hour before becoming a tornado. Inside the storm, winds will start to rotate horizontally and become a cylinder of air. As the cylinder of air narrows and elongates, it will begin to spin faster, which will form the tornado.
What Damage Does a Tornado Cause?
The United States has more tornadoes than any other country. On average, there are about 1,000 tornadoes reported nationwide each year. They occur in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and many others states in the Great Plains. In the first five months of 2020, according to the NOAA, there were over 600 tornadoes in the United States, with several turning deadly as these tornadoes were responsible for 73 deaths. The devastating impact from these tornadoes can cause millions of dollars in damage for the affected communities.
Since winds can easily reach over 100 miles per hour, capable of damaging many common structural features of a home or business, some property damage costs may include:
- The repair or replacement of a roof
- The repair or replacement of structure, including foundation, frame, etc.
- The replacement of electronics, appliances, furniture, personal items, etc.
- The repair or replacement of vehicles on the property
- The replacement of any landscaping damaged
Decreasing Risk of Damages
When living in an area where tornadoes occur regularly, there are multiple methods available to reduce the risk of catastrophic damage to homes and families. Preparation is key to surviving. Being aware of weather forecasts, daily weather updates, weather warnings, and watches will help provide you with precious time to react when a large storm arrives that could potentially create a tornado. If you are able, preparing a storm cellar or underground shelter increases the chances of survival when a tornado hits. Many new construction techniques are being developed to increase a building’s resistance to extreme winds; however, most families live in homes that offer little to no protection. Adding a self-contained safe room to established homes, many of which have been developed over the past five years to specifically protect families from tornadoes, also increases the likelihood of surviving a tornado.
According to Verisk’s Property Claim Services, tornadoes have accounted for approximately 40% of insured catastrophic losses over the past few decades. Most general homeowners’ insurance, property insurance, vehicle insurance, or commercial insurance policies contain coverage for tornado damage; however, insurance providers are not always fair or prompt in their assessment of these claims. In extreme cases, an insurance company may even outright deny a claim or say the damage existed before the tornado struck. If your insurer delays, underpays, or denies your property damage claim, you have legal options. A knowledgeable attorney can help you get the compensation the insurance company owes you.
Texas Tornado Damage Lawyers
If your property has been damaged as the result of a tornado and you are experiencing difficulty collecting compensation for your damages from your insurance provider, call the Texas tornado insurance lawyers at Dax F. Garza, P.C. to get the most from your insurance policy.