Insurance Check-up: A WAFF 48 News Special Report

After tornadoes destroyed thousands of homes in Alabama, homeowners have questions about insurance coverage.
After tornadoes destroyed thousands of homes in Alabama, homeowners have questions about insurance coverage.

According to the Alabama Department of Insurance, more than 65,000 storm damage claims have been filed since the April 27th tornado outbreak.

Several storm victims are realizing they don't have the coverage they need.

Compare checking your insurance policy to a check-up at the doctor's office. With the doc, you want to know that you're healthy. With insurance, you want to know that you're covered, and that means the items inside your home as well.

Sandra Sullivan is one of thousands of Alabamians filing insurance claims after April's storms.

"It's been difficult because I wasn't as knowledgeable about the insurance process as I should have been," said Sullivan.

Sullivan said her insurance policy will cover the damage to her home. She's now turning her focus to getting reimbursed for all the valuables she had inside her home.

"I had a grandfather clock that was 130 years old," Sullivan said.

Dave Colmans, the Executive Director for the Alabama Insurance Information Service said when it comes to your belongings, the best kind of feature to have in your policy is what's called replacement cost.

"That means if you had a new 36 inch hi-def television, you can go out and buy a like television. Once you have purchased that, you can submit that to the insurance company and typically they will reimburse you for that," explained Colmans.

If you have a cash value feature in your policy, age and quality will be taken into consideration.

"Let's say you have a 5 year old TV It's just a regular tube TV After depreciation, a 5 year old set isn't worth but pennies on the dollar," Colmans added.

He said a lot of people are running into reimbursement problems because they lack a good home inventory. That means snapping pictures, saving receipts, and writing down anything of value that you own.

Colmans said proving what you had in your home is difficult after it's been destroyed. Your best bet is to do the math before tragedy strikes. It's something Sandra Sullivan is trying to do post storm.

"I'm in the process of writing everything down now," said Sullivan.

She's advising others to get a head start.

"I'd say take pictures, or take film and talk as you go through and point out certain items," said Sullivan.

You can also email yourself your pictures and list and save it on-line. No matter how you do it, you don't want to only have that information stored in your house. When your home is destroyed, documents, just like belongings, can be lost for ever.

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