How Can I Lower My Homeowners Insurance Rate Living in Tornado Alley? | Think Realty

Most states have certain natural disasters that they’re prone to. In California, it’s earthquakes; along the coastal cities, it’s hurricanes and flooding. And then there’s Tornado Alley.

Although it’s not formally defined, Tornado Alley is commonly understood as areas in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kansas, South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska, with several other states sometimes being included.

Living in one of these states means you’re probably going to encounter a tornado sooner or later. So what does that mean for your home and your homeowner’s insurance?

Living in Tornado Alley

If you are thinking of moving to one of the areas inside Tornado Alley — or if you’ve just recently moved — there are a few things you should know about living with the threat of tornadoes.

  • First, you should know the language when you watch weather forecasts and bulletins. A tornado watch means there may be a tornado forming, but it hasn’t yet. A tornado warning means there is a tornado in the area and you should seek shelter. A tornado emergency means you are in the path of a dangerous tornado and should seek shelter immediately.
  • You should have some form of shelter for your home. A dedicated underground storm shelter is preferable — many houses built in tornado-prone areas already have such a shelter built into a basement or cellar.
  • Make sure you have extra batteries and mobile chargers is important for maintaining communication. Some opt to have iridium satellite phones or hand-cranked radios in their shelter in case other methods of communication fail.
  • Have a plan for taking shelter and make sure everyone in your family knows it. Running regular drills to practice isn’t a bad idea either.
  • Watch the weather! Whether you keep an eye on televised broadcasts or download apps to help you keep tabs on the weather, it’s one of the biggest steps you can take towards avoiding disaster.

Tornado Insurance

Then, of course, there’s the matter of tornado insurance. One of the first things you should do is check to see if your homeowner’s insurance covers tornado damage — because not every policy will cover the full costs. And if they don’t, it might be time to compare insurance quotes and find some new homeowners insurance.

So what kind of things does tornado insurance cover, and what should you look for?

  • Windstorm damage. When looking at your policy, check to make sure windstorm damage isn’t excluded, and know your deductibles. Some policies also include living expenses coverage, which will help pay for food and shelter expenses if you’re unable to live in your home after the tornado.
  • Flood damage. Tornadoes don’t just cause wind and hail damage. They can also destroy pipes and water sources. Your standard home insurance policy won’t cover this, but might offer it as a separate purchase.
  • Replacement-cost home insurance. Few things are worse than having your home destroyed by a tornado and finding out your coverage doesn’t allow you to fully rebuild. Make sure your policy gives you all the coverage you need.

Lowering Your Homeowners Insurance in Tornado Alley

Tornadoes are inevitable, and if you live in an area where they’re common, there’s nothing you can do to stop them. All you can do is be prepared and hope for the best. Beyond picking up more homeowners insurance or comparing quotes to find a better policy, what can you do?

As it turns out, one of the most effective things you can do is tornado-proof your home as much as you can. A home that’s protected against tornado damage means your claim(s) could be a lot less.

Here are a few ways you can reduce tornado damage to your home:

  • Access points like doors and windows are generally the weakest, and the most susceptible to debris thrown up by high winds. In some cases, the rush of wind into the home can actually cause the walls to crumble. Invest in heavy-duty doors and windows, as well as bracing the shutter of the garage.
  • Strengthen your roofing. This is another particularly vulnerable part of your home when it comes to tornadoes. You can buy galvanized steel hurricane clips that improve the strength of your roof, or glue the roof sheathing to the trusses and rafters with high-capacity adhesive.
  • Timber-frame houses are literally not built to withstand hurricane-force winds. ICFs (Insulating Concrete Forms) can strengthen your walls with reinforced concrete, making them far more resistant to tornadoes and high winds. As an added bonus, houses built with ICF often have lower energy requirements, meaning you could save some money on your power bills.

Finally, there’s one more thing to keep in mind if you are living (or thinking of living) in Tornado Alley. The higher cost of homeowners insurance is often offset by the lower cost of living. So it’s not necessarily more expensive to own a home in Tornado Alley — it just requires a different attitude.

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