Tornado Damage Insurance Claims in Texas
According to Wikipedia, a typical tornado has winds of 110 mph or less, is approximately 250 feet across, and travels a mile or so before dissipating. However, the behavior of tornadoes is unpredictable. These figures represent only statistical probability. Texas is the leader in the number of tornadoes each year.
The damage represented in a Texas tornado damage claim can range from roof damage to total loss. Depending on the severity of the damage, there can be great disparities in the values of the claim damage. Hiring The Disaster Advocates can literally mean the difference between total and utter devastation and the hope of recovery. Why? Insurance companies thrive on underpaying claims and under investigating structural damage. When the result of tornado damage is a total loss, most insurance companies will payout to the minimum policy limits on the structure, even if the policy owner is also facing total loss of personal property (property contents). But there are still many factors to consider, and these are what a professional public adjuster will review. From depreciation to increased cost of construction coverage, let our expert Texas public adjusters assist with your tornado damage claim by reviewing, investigating, inspecting, and inventorying contents lost during the tornado.
The vast majority of tornadoes are designated EF1 or EF0, also known as “weak” tornadoes. However, weak is a relative term for tornadoes as even these can cause significant damage. F0 and F1 tornadoes are typically short-lived—since 1980 almost 75% of tornadoes that were rated weak stayed on the ground for one mile or less. Despite their “weakness”, they can still cause both tornado damage and fatalities.
EF0 (T0-T1) damage is characterized by superficial damage to structures and vegetation. Well-built structures are typically unscathed, sometimes sustaining broken windows, with minor damage to roofs and chimneys. Billboards and large signs can be knocked down. Trees may have large branches broken off, and can be uprooted if they have shallow roots. Any tornado that is confirmed but causes no damage (i.e. remains in open fields) is usually rated EF0.
EF1 (T2-T3) tornado damage has caused significantly more fatalities than EF0 tornadoes. At this level, damage to mobile homes and other temporary structures becomes significant, and cars and other vehicles can be pushed off the road. Permanent structures can suffer major damage to their roofs. In many cases, roof damage claims are filed, but insurance companies will underperform and delay in an effort to preserve their margins while allowing properties to crumble.
EF2 (T4-T5) tornadoes are on the lowest end of “significant” tornadoes list, and yet are stronger than most tropical cyclones (though tropical cyclones affect a much larger area and their winds rage for a much longer duration). Well-built structures can suffer serious wind damage, including roof loss and collapse of outer walls. Mobile homes, however, are almost totally destroyed. Vehicles can be lifted off the ground, and lighter objects can become small missiles, causing damage outside of the tornado’s main path. A large percentage of trees in wooded areas will snap or be uprooted.
EF3 (T6-T7) tornadoes become significantly more destructive and deadly, and damage can create serious risk to life and limb. Few parts of affected buildings are left standing; well-built structures lose all outer and most inner walls. Small vehicles and similarly sized objects are lifted off the ground and tossed as projectiles. Wooded areas will suffer almost total loss of vegetation. Statistically speaking, EF3 is the maximum level that allows for reasonably effective residential sheltering in a first floor interior room, or closest to the center of the house (the most widespread tornado sheltering procedure in America for properties with a basement). Although reasonably effective against tornadoes EF0-2, EF3+ represents the point at which no home can expect to retain any interior walls that can act as a shield for the occupants, and thus, those sheltering above ground will face a high likelihood of severe injury or death as the structure is ripped apart.
EF4 (T8-T9) damage typically results in a total loss of the affected structure. Well-built homes are reduced to a short pile of medium-sized debris. Large, heavy vehicles, including airplanes, trains, and large trucks, can be pushed over, flipped repeatedly, or picked up and moved short distances. Large, healthy trees are entirely debarked and snapped off close to the ground, or uprooted altogether and turned into flying projectiles, capable of piercing steel. Passenger cars and similarly sized objects can be picked up and flung for considerable distances. EF4 tornadoes can level even the most robustly built residential homes and commercial properties, making the common practice of sheltering in an interior room on the ground floor of a building insufficient to ensure survival. A storm shelter, reinforced basement, or other subterranean shelter is considered necessary to provide any reasonable expectation of safety against EF4 damage.
EF5 (T10+) damage represents the upper limit of tornado power, and destruction is almost always total. An EF5 tornado pulls well-built homes off their foundations and into the air before shredding them, flinging the wreckage for miles and sweeping the foundation clean. Very little recognizable structural debris remains, with most materials reduced to a coarse mix of small, granular particles that is dispersed evenly across the tornado’s damage path. Large, multi-ton steel frame vehicles and farm equipment are often mangled beyond recognition and deposited miles away, or reduced to entirely unrecognizable component parts. The official description of this extent of damage highlights the extreme nature of the destruction, noting that “incredible phenomena will occur”. Historically, this has included such awesome displays of power as twisting skyscrapers, the leveling of entire communities, and stripping asphalt right off the road bed. Despite their relative rarity, the damage caused by EF5 tornadoes represents a disproportionately extreme hazard— since 1950 in the United States, only 58 tornadoes (0.1% of all reports) have been designated F5 or EF5, and yet these have been responsible for more than 1,300 deaths and 14,000 injuries (21.5% and 13.6%, respectively).
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