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Insurers Are Assisting Chicago Residents Recover from Tornado Damage

Damaging tornadoes ripped through Chicagoland on Wednesday, and the insurance industry has mobilized and is assisting residents in the recovery process.

“Our thoughts are with those who have been impacted by the violent weather,” said Brooke Kelley, assistant vice president, state government relations for the American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA). “Anyone who experienced damage should contact their insurance company or agent to get the recovery process started. Insurers plan for severe weather and are prepared to immediately assist policyholders.”

While tornado activity frequently occurs in Illinois, Wednesday’s storms were particularly damaging in parts of Chicago. Individuals impacted by the storms should put safety first as they take the necessary steps to begin the cleanup and recovery process, also listen to local and state officials during this emergency.

Insurance adjusters are already in the process of helping storm victims and the good news is that most severe weather-related events like tornadoes are covered under a homeowners, renters, automobile, or commercial insurance policy.

“Homeowners and renters insurance policies generally provide coverage for additional living expenses if a covered loss makes your home uninhabitable,” said Kelley. “The additional living expense provision of your policy may help pay for things like temporary housing, laundry services, restaurant meals, and more. Additionally, if you experienced damage from the storm, do not become a victim twice by falling prey to illegitimate contractors seeking to making money off your situation.”

Let your insurer verify what repairs are necessary before you sign any contracts, then find a licensed and reputable contractor to do the work. Use your insurer or agent as a resource in helping to access the services needed to handle a claim and take the proper precautions to make sure they are hiring a reputable contractor to complete the job.

“Once you have filed your claim, there are a number of things you can do to help expedite the recovery process such as photographing the damage and making an inventory of what was lost and damaged,” said Kelley.

Although the U.S. has moved beyond the peak of tornado season (March through June), Illinois is still grappling with severe convective weather. According to the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Service, there have been more than 1,020 tornadoes in 2023. This is the third most active season in the previous 10 years.

So far in July there have been several tornadoes that have caused tens of millions of dollars in damage. “This has been a very busy tornado season, particularly for states such as Illinois, where there have been more than 100 tornadoes so far this year,” said Jeffrey Brewer, department vice president for the American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA). “It is never too early or too late to create a family plan for emergencies, a home inventory of your possessions, and to conduct an insurance checkup to ensure you are adequately covered for a natural disaster or other emergencies. This time of year, storms can develop quickly, and we urge everyone to remain alert to the watches and warnings issued by the weather service.”

Additionally on June 30, Governor Pritzker signed a consumer protection bill, SB 1495, which strengthens the Department of Insurance’s authority to intervene earlier in situations where a public adjuster contract violates the requirements of the Illinois Insurance Code. This legislation is a continuation of APCIA work with lawmakers to protect consumers from being re-victimized by bad actors who sometimes target storm victims in the aftermath of disasters.

APCIA also offers resources with vital information for those impacted by severe weather, as well as preparedness tips for those living in tornado-prone areas.

APCIA’s Tornado Recovery Tips:

  • Secure property from further damage or theft.
  • Contact your insurance agent or company representative as soon as possible to report damage.
  • Inventory losses and photograph damage to provide to your insurance adjustor. Save receipts.
  • If you are a businessowner, keep detailed records of business activity that is negatively affected due to the tornado or storm and keep a list of extra expenses during the interruption. Prepare records to show the income from the business before and after the loss.
  • Many standard homeowners’ and renters’ policies provide reimbursement of additional living expenses when the property is determined to be uninhabitable due to a covered loss. This provision helps with paying for increases to necessary living expenses such as temporary housing and restaurant meals. In addition, extra expenses such as overnight parking and laundry services may also be covered. Additional living expense coverage does not pay for all living expenses, so contact your insurance company or agent for a list of what your policy will cover.
  • Be careful about unscrupulous contractors following a natural disaster. Contact your insurer, agent or local business bureau for references on potential contractors and ask for certificates of liability and workers compensation before signing contracts.

The American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA) is the primary national trade association for home, auto, and business insurers. APCIA promotes and protects the viability of private competition for the benefit of consumers and insurers, with a legacy dating back 150 years. APCIA members represent all sizes, structures, and regions—protecting families, communities, and businesses in the U.S. and across the globe.

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