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Tips for handling insurance claims for tornado damage

Arkansas communities are pulling together to support each other materially, financially, and spiritually after a tornado ripped through the Natural State last weekend. Clothing, food, tarps, personal items, and more are being provided by volunteers and reconstruction is already underway. A big part of rebuilding will be insurance claims, probably the last thing on anyone’s mind at the moment, so we’ve compiled this list of things to keep in mind.

1. Call your insurance agent as soon as possible

The sooner you can start your claim process, the better. Insurance companies often set a time limit for claims – if you wait, you may not be able to submit a claim. Review your policy before calling.

2. There may be damage you can’t see

Wind and water can penetrate parts of your home that you may not be able to see. Even after rebuilding, you may be at risk for mold or foundation leakage. Make sure everything is documented.

3. Work to prevent more damage

Use tarps and lumber to cover exposed areas. Insurance companies may see you as responsible for any damage to the house after the tornado.

4. Keep all receipts

Save every receipt for supplies you purchase during this chaotic time.

5. Document your property damage yourself, don’t rely on the insurance company

An adjuster will probably be sent to your home to inspect and take photos. Don’t rely on the adjuster to document all damage to your home. Take photos and videos yourself to make sure you’re covered.

6. Itemize all destroyed or damaged items

Make a comprehensive list of all items lost to the tornado. Everything should be completely documented so you can be fully compensated.

7. Apply for federal disaster assistance

On Sunday, the President approved a disaster declaration for Arkansas. You can apply for assistance at

8. Be persistent

Adjusters and insurance company employees will be busy during this time, make sure to check in once you’ve filed your claim to make sure it’s moving through the system.


What if I rent?

Some renters insurance will cover the replacement of belongings lost in a tornado. Make sure to follow Step 6 and document all items damaged before making your claim.

Photo credit: State Farm via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

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