Oklahomans encouraged to be prepared for storm season

letter to editorTo the Editor:

Storm season in Oklahoma is here, and now is the time to prepare for the worst.

First, make sure you have sufficient homeowners insurance. Standard homeowners insurance policies cover damage caused by tornadoes to the structure of the building and its contents.

Your coverage limits should reflect the current cost of rebuilding your home and replacing your personal belongings.

You should also check to see if your policy includes replacement cost or actual cash value. Replacement cost is preferred because it pays to replace the lost item with a brand new replacement. Actual cash value only pays what the item is worth now.

If you rent, renters insurance will cover the loss of personal possessions if your house or apartment is destroyed in a tornado. Most policies also reimburse you the difference between additional living expenses and normal living costs if you are forced to live somewhere else because of the damage.

Second, check your car insurance coverage. Damage to cars from a tornado is covered under the optional comprehensive portion of a standard auto insurance policy. Minimum liability coverage will not cover the cost of replacing or repairing your car if it is destroyed or damaged in a storm.

Third, make a home inventory or update your current inventory. Include pictures or video if possible and write down as much detail as you can about each item including when it was purchased and how much it cost. For help making your home inventory, go to www.ok.gov/oid/HomeInventory.

Fourth, make a family emergency plan. Decide where your family will take shelter if there is a disaster.

Determine how family members will contact one another and get back together after an emergency. Also, create an emergency supply kit that includes items like non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered radio, flashlights and batteries. And don’t forget about your pets.

Finally, have copies of your insurance policies and contact information for your agent or insurance company. Keep these where you can access them after a disaster. Calling your insurance company or agent is the first step in filing a claim and getting you on the road to recovery.

For more information or help with any insurance related questions, contact the Oklahoma Insurance Department’s Consumer Assistance Division at 1-800-522-0071.

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