Commissioner Causey encourages storm readiness after tornado sweeps through Garner

After an EF-1 tornado ravaged parts of Garner, Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey is urging the state’s consumers to check with their insurance agent to review their policies and make sure they are covered from the effects of natural disasters.

The tornado touched down last Sunday in Garner uprooting trees and damaging homes and cars while carrying top wind speeds of 110 miles per hour.

The town of Garner reported more than 20 homes were damaged after Sunday’s storm. Four of those homes are now uninhabitable.

“Our hearts go out to the families affected by the tornado in Garner,” said Commissioner Causey. “This is a tragic reminder of the importance of being prepared for natural disasters and knowing what’s covered in both your homeowners’ and automobile insurance policies.”

The North Carolina Department of Insurance is always available to help homeowners dealing with the aftermath of a disaster. Many people never had to file a claim on their insurance before and not knowing what to do can be very stressful.

Commissioner Causey offers the following tips to help North Carolinians be prepared before, during, and after a storm:

•    Make sure you have adequate insurance coverage. 
•    Compile important documents. 
•    Create a home inventory. 
•    Identify potential hazards around your home. 
•    Check your emergency toolkit and to-go bag. 
•    Electricity may go out, so make sure you have extra drinking water. 
•    Shelter in place if officials advise it.
•    Stay away from windows, glass doors and skylights.
•    Find a safe place to stay in the interior of the home on a lower floor unless flooding is a possibility.
•    Make sure your cell phone is charged. Do not use a landline if lightning is present.
•    Turn off the electricity at the main breaker if flooding becomes a threat.
•    Remain indoors until officials give notice that it is safe to go outside.
•    If officials order an evacuation, do not come home until officials advise it is safe to do so.
•    Make sure you have adequate insurance coverage. 
•    Make a list of the damages and take clear pictures before you make any temporary repairs.
•    Do what you can to stop further damage from happening.  
•    Make temporary repairs so further damage doesn’t occur and keep your receipts.  
•    If you can’t live in your home, check with your insurance company to determine which expenses will be reimbursed.

Renters insurance protects your personal property against damage or loss and insures you in case someone is injured while on the rented property. If you live in a rented apartment, house or condominium, your landlord’s insurance does not cover your personal property or provide liability protection in the event of a loss.

Sadly, fraud is very common after a big storm. Commissioner Causey encourages storm victims to only work with licensed and insured contractors. Our NCDOI Criminal Investigations Division has a staff of Special Agents across the state who investigate insurance fraud daily.

Commissioner Causey also urged North Carolinians to talk to their agents about getting flood insurance coverage policies through the National Flood Insurance Program. Damage from floods is also not covered under standard homeowners’ policies.

For questions regarding insurance or more information about what to do before, during, and after a storm, contact the North Carolina Department of Insurance at 855-408-1212 or visit our website.

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Angela Brown
Angela Brown is the author of our Business & Economy section.