Thunderstorms Friday with tornado potential

How to prepare for the worst and be financially covered.
Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 10:14 PM CDT
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WINNEBAGO COUNTY, Ill. (WIFR) - As we start to really get into storm season, severe weather threats like the one we expect tomorrow can cause some serious harm to you and your belongings.

Preparing yourself for the worst case scenario is the top priority at all times. Make sure you have a place to take cover like a basement. If you do not have a basement or live in a mobile home, find a closet or bathroom on the lowest level and take cover with a blanket and pillows to stay safe. Mobile homes specifically, if you live near a structurally sound building or one with a basement, take cover there as it will offer more shelter.

If you are on the road when a tornado touches down do not take cover under an underpass. Heather Paul, an insurance spokesperson and public affair specialist with State Farm says, underpasses can form a wind tunnel and actually pick up your car. Find a ditch instead and flatten yourself on the ground. This will be your safest option if you cannot get to a building.

Keep a weather radio on you for updates, even if you lose power so then you are aware of everything happening around you. It is also smart to have a family communication plan to keep up with each other.

“When we panic is when we make mistakes. Taking photos of the damage that may have occurred or things that have, that are missing because they might of flew off in high winds or something. So taking photos is going to help with your claim process afterwards,” said Paul.

While most people prepare with tangible items, not many think about what could happen after. That’s why experts say to be familiar with your insurance coverage and make sure it’s up to date.

Insurance can coverage storm aftermath situations such as, a tree falling into your car or on your car, damage to any part of your home or the demolishing of your home altogether where you might be placed into a hotel for the time being.

Food spoilage is also very common with power outages and your insurance company may have coverage for that too. Paul encourages everyone to take photos of food with the expiration date before a big storm hits, so if you do lose power and your food goes bad you can claim that.

Hail damage is another claim someone can make. Good size balls of hail can cause severe damage and if anything is affected, call your insurance company for a claim.

“We always encourage people to have at least an annual review with their insurance agent to go over their policy, make sure that they understand things like, what is their deductible? How much do they need to pay out of pocket if they have a claim? What types of things are covered?” Paul explains.

She also warns people about scam contractors who take advantage of people in vulnerable situations. They will scam you out of a lot of money by telling you something can be fixed by them, when they do not have your best interest at heart. If you see a group of people hop out of a pick-up and go door-to-door or even someone in a pick-up going door-to-door about repairs, do not accept or sign anything.

“It’s very common to see pick-up trucks of people driving through your neighborhood saying I see damage to your roof and for this amount of money we can fix your roof,” said Paul, “We can, we’ll take care of it, we’ll work with your insurance company. So be very, very aware of contractor fraud because unfortunately a lot of people fall pray to that.”