Spring Storm Safety Tips

Will March Winds And April Showers Bring Forth More Than May Flowers?

home-insMinnesota’s winter season is reportedly among the top three coldest states within the United States. With a ranking near the top with the lowest annual temperature, it is not surprising that by the end of February many people here begin to long for the warm sunshine and greenery of summer. During the months of spring (March-May) the air does seem to feel a bit warmer, but the weather can be very unpredictable. There can be days when the temperature rises to more than seventy degrees on one day and then drops down to below freezing the next. Since the temperature fluctuates by more than just a few degrees this time of year, in addition to the lingering sleet and snow showers there is also potential for severe weather such as thunderstorms, hail, and torrential downpours. When the temperature finally stays well above freezing for an extended period of time, the accumulated snow and ice begin to melt rapidly. With the grounds already saturated from the melting snow and ice, and the likelihood of rain showers, there tends to be a greater risk for flooding.

Although it is nearly impossible to completely avoid damage if you are in the path of any storm activity, sometimes we can partially prepare or even avoid some damage by becoming aware of what the storms are capable of and by following some of the safety tips.

Spring Storm Safety Tips

Thunderstorms/ Tornados

Stormy_WeatherThunderstorms develop as a result of warm unstable air moving upwards. As the warmer air rises, it meets cooler air. When the air reaches a dew point it condenses to form clouds. The intensity of the storm depends on the amount of energy and precipitation circulated through the clouds. These storm clouds produce positive and negative charges that can generate lightning. Lightning is a spark that is created by static electricity formed when the positive and negative charges of these clouds touch. Depending on where the charges attract, lightning can also occur from the clouds to the ground. The lightning bolts are so electrically charged that they can start a fire, damage trees, and destroy property. These storms are also capable of producing high winds, heavy rainfall, and hail.

tornadoA Tornado can be the product of a thunderstorm. It is formed when warm humid air rises up against a cooler air mass combined with varied wind directions and significant speeds that cause a horizontal spinning. Rising air caught within the updraft of a rotating column of air forces the spinning from horizontal into vertical which creates the funnel cloud. The weight of the rain and hail within the storm cloud forces the funnel cloud to touch down. Tornados are the most destructive storms. They are capable of lifting off the roof of a house, picking vehicles up from off the ground, and driving objects at violent speeds into other objects. Tornados occur most often during the spring and summer months but have been known to randomly occur throughout the year.   

Safety Tips:

  • Go to the basement or lowest part of the home – Cover yourself with padding such as blankets, couch cushions, or pillows
  • Stay away from windows
  • Unplug electrical appliances
  • Mobile homes are unsafe – move to a shelter
  • If caught outdoors find the lowest ground and lay flat, stay away from trees and vehicles
  • If you are driving pull off the side of the road and try to find low ground

Hail Storms

hailHail forms when a cold front moves into a warmer climate during a severe storm. It has been described as an ice pellet that varies in size from dime size to softball size.  Hailstorms usually cause more damage because the pellets fall from the sky with great speed. Hail storms can begin without warning and there is not much time to prepare for their destruction. They can cause significant damage to vehicles, homes, and anything left outdoors uncovered or improperly stored.

Safety Tips:

  • Park your vehicles, outdoor furniture, bikes, etc. in a garage or shed
  • Stay indoors
  • Stay away from the windows
  • If you are stuck outdoors try to cover your body and head
  • If you are stuck in a vehicle, pull off to the side of the road or in a parking ramp

Floods

Flood InsuranceFlooding is one of the most devastating and frequent natural disasters that occur.  Low lying areas are more prone to flooding than others. Flooding occurs when the ground becomes saturated with heavy rains, fast melting snow/ice, or the combination of both. The most common types of floods are River Floods and Flash Floods. With river flooding, there is a short amount of time to prepare for the worst. As the rivers begin to rise, they can be monitored for hours or sometimes days prior to them reaching their crest. The most dangerous flooding is Flash Floods which occur when there are heavy downpours that produce large amounts of rain within a short period of time. These types of floods are the most dangerous because they hit without notice and don’t give you time to prepare. The waters rise rapidly and begin to flow at increasing speeds that sweep away whatever is in the path. Almost half of flash flood deaths occur in vehicles when the drivers underestimate the speed and depth of the water and try to drive through it. According to Wikipedia encyclopedia, The largest flash flood in Twin Cities history occurred on July 23–July 24, 1987. Dubbed locally The Super Storm, more rain fell from this event than any other in recorded Twin Cities history. The storm caused damage to 9,000 homes, killed two people, and caused $27 million in damage.   

 Safety Tips:

  • Seal off the basement of your home to avoid water leaks
  • Unplug everything from the outlets on all level of the home
  • Try to avoid walking in the flood water, if it can’t be avoided use a pole or something to aid you with leverage.
  • Never drive through a flooded area, there can be potholes beneath and the water depth may not be what it appears – water speed is often underestimated
  • If you are warned to evacuate don’t hesitate to move to higher ground

Unlike other natural disasters, flooding is not covered under homeowners insurance.   However, it can be purchased in addition to your homeowners insurance. Check with your agent to learn more about Flood Insurance.

If you live in Minnesota and need help with any type of insurance reach out, we’re happy to help.

By: Insurance Advisors, Inc.

Filing an Insurance Claim

College student with parent.The sole purpose for buying insurance is to protect you in the event that something happens to the valuable things that you own such as home, auto, and your personal belongings.  Since each individual policy is based on purchase price and other factors depending on what you are insuring, it is important to know what types of coverages you have and what deductible you will pay in case you need to file a claim. Insurance policies are loaded with fine print and clauses that most people don’t read or understand.  It’s a good idea to become familiar with what your policy does and does not cover. There are insurance riders that can be added to the policy for additional protection if you are not already covered. You can contact your agent to learn more about the details of your policy.

Filing a claim is part of the long process of dealing with the loss of insured property, damage to property, or injuries sustained. Prior to filing any claim keep in mind that the more claims filed, whether it is a moderate repair or a complete loss, could in some way affect the premiums that you pay for your home and auto insurance.

When considering filing a claim for minor damages in the home, or as a result of an auto incident that required minimal repairs, it might be more sensible to make the repairs yourself and avoid filing the claim especially if the estimate for damages is only slightly higher the deductible.  Typically claims filed that are not your fault, such as damage from a storm, theft, hail, or an auto collision should not affect your rates and should be filed as soon as possible.  The longer it is delayed, the more damage could occur and the less likely your insurance company is to cover the full cost of all of the damages incurred.

Contacting your agent for advice on certain claims will help you to avoid a hike in your rates and perhaps prevent you from losing coverage due to an excessive amount of claims filed within your policy terms.

What is Important to Consider When Contemplating Filing an Insurance Claim:

Home

  • Could it have been prevented –Were there existing problems that went unresolved (pipes, cracks in cement, roof repairs)
  • Water Damage – Mold Issues
  • Do you have prior claims for similar issues
  • Estimate the damages/know your deductible

Auto 

  • Were you at fault – Other vehicles involved
  • Do you have other auto claims/prior moving violations
  • Estimate the cost of damages/know your deductible
  • Bodily Injury

 What to do to Begin the Process of Filing:

  • Report in a timely manner as coverage is contingent on timely reporting
  • Get the information needed such as other Drivers names, Addresses, and phone numbers, vehicle makes/models, license plates of other vehicles, names of witnesses if any, policy numbers, etc.
  • Prevent further damage with minor repairs when necessary
  • Take Pictures of damages if at all possible
  • Assess the cost of damages, get a repair estimates

Insurance Advisors, Inc