Oklahoma has long been a hotbed for tornadoes and severe storms. But thankfully, planning ahead goes a long way toward protecting your family. Before disaster strikes, you’ll want to review your insurance policy to make sure you have adequate coverage. Understanding your policy will also help you plan for any out-of-pocket expenses you may incur if your home is damaged.

Replacement Cost vs. Actual Cash Value

Be sure you understand the difference between replacement cost and actual cash value. Replacement cost is the amount it would take to replace or rebuild your home or repair damages with materials of similar kind and quality, without deducting for depreciation. It is important to insure your home for at least 80 percent of its replacement value. Actual cash value is the amount it would take to repair or replace damage to your home after depreciation. A replacement cost policy initially pays the ACV. After repairs are completed the replacement cost benefit will be released.

Immediately Following the Disaster

It is important to have an accurate account of any damage for your insurance provider when you make your claim. Before removing any debris or broken belongings, document your losses. Take photos or video and make a list of the damages. If possible, save these items for your insurance adjuster to review.

Once you have thoroughly documented the damage, it is your responsibility to take reasonable steps to avoid further harm to your home or belongings. Make temporary repairs, such as covering a hole in your roof, or arrange for a qualified professional to do so. Your company may also reimburse you if you need to find temporary lodging or store your possessions, so keep all of your receipts.

Starting Your Claim

Contact your insurance company as soon as possible. When reporting your losses, have your insurance information, current contact information and home inventory handy. If you don’t have a home inventory, click here for instructions on how to create one.

The Claims Process

After you file your claim, your insurance company will send a claims adjuster to your home to assess the damage. The adjuster will walk through your home to see any damaged items or temporary repairs you made to make the home safe. They may also want to look at the outside of your home, your roof, or your basement. Once the adjuster has completed their assessment, they will provide documentation of the loss to your insurance company to determine your claims settlement. If you have a dispute with your insurer over your claim, call the Oklahoma Insurance Department at 1-800-522-0071.