Most of the stores in the Shoppes at Fairfield Commons have been boarded up due to tornado damage. Piles of debris have been collected for removal as damage is assesed by insurers. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Photo: Ty Greenlees
Photo: Ty Greenlees

Thousands of insurance claims expected after tornado

Local insurance agents said those with damage to their businesses, homes and cars after Monday night’s tornadoes should call to report their claims right away.

State Farm agent Nathan Baker, whose office is in Huber Heights, said he and other agents have received nonstop calls from clients in areas where the storms hit.

“When the devastation is this much, it’s like nothing any of us in our area has really seen,” Baker said.

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State Farm as of Wednesday received about 1,060 homeowner claims in Ohio and 650 auto claims in Ohio related to the recent severe weather.

Bryan Wood, meteorologist and catastrophic analyst with Assurant, said he estimated there will be about 2,000 to 2,500 claims from buildings — commercial and residential — in the area damaged by the storms.

Farmers Insurance and Allstate have set up at the Ervin J. Nutter Center at Wright State University to allow residents and businesses to file insurance claims.

Brookville arranged for local Allstate insurance Agent Mike Hild to meet with Allstate policy holders Thursday and today from 9 a.m. to noon in Building 3 at Golden Gate Park, 545 E. Upper Lewisburg-Salem Road, Brookville. The idea is to give people a central location to go to talk about filing claims and other paperwork after the tornado.

Travelers opened a mobile claim office at the Home Depot in Trotwood at 5200 Salem Ave. from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Baker said it’s going to take time for repairs to be made and for contractors to see to all the calls they are getting.

Baker said State Farm has been writing checks to clients so they can stay in hotels if they have lost their homes.

If the power has gone out, he said it is best to unplug any small electrical items to prevent damage from a power surge.

For apartment buildings, Baker said the property owners will be able to use their insurance to rebuild, but the renters, if they don’t have insurance, will not be able to file a claim to be repaid for their losses or to get a hotel covered through insurance while they are displaced.

He said this is why he recommends all renters have insurance plans, which he said can be relatively cheap. If bundled with car insurance, the discount might even cover the cost of the renters insurance plan.

Matt Currie, managing attorney for Advocates for Basic Legal Equality’s housing, community and economic practice area, said a renter’s ability to recoup their losses if their home was destroyed will depend on the individual case.

The best-case scenario for a tenant is if they have renters insurance. He said the first thing he would recommend to renters is that they look through their lease and see what the agreement says happens if there is a natural disaster.

Currie said he and ABLE staff are working on a strategy to reach out to affected people who need legal help.

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State Farm said consumers should make sure the estimates are signed by the vendor and approved by your adjuster or agent before having major damage repaired.

The Ohio Department of Insurance said that consumers should obtain a list of reputable contractors from their insurer, the Better Business Bureau, or a specialized consumer organization. The department recommended that consumers also get more than one estimate.

Leronda Jackson, president of LFL Insurance Agency, said it is important that home owners take pictures of damage before moving anything so that insurance adjusters can see things in their natural state.

While professionals should make the home repairs, Jackson said one thing homeowners can do themselves while waiting for contractors is securing their home if it is not livable, such as boarding up windows to keep further rain from coming in and to keep people out.

“That’s really the major repair that people are doing or trying to do,” Jackson said.

However, she recommended against tarping a roof because without the right experience, you could get hurt.

Wood said when looking at the likelihood that a home will hold up in a storm, both older and newer homes can sustain heavy damage and it depends not on the age of the building but how well a specific home was built.

Some of the weak points that a home might have include overhanging patios attached to their roof or attached garages.

Wood said one type of building that can be vulnerable to this type of weather is commercial buildings with prefabricated metal, such as the Action Sports Center and Hara Arena. While they can handle most other situations well, those type of buildings are vulnerable to the wind levels that were happening Monday night.

“Those metal pieces tend to peel quickly in the wind,” he said.

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