Five ways to avoid homeowners insurance frustrations when you have tornado damage:

1) Do not touch anything before documenting damages. Don’t clean up or move items before everything is documented. Take pictures and write a list of damaged items.

2) Understand your policy. Call your local agent first. Some insurance companies will count your inquiry as a claim, even if a claim isn’t made.

Some homeowners’ policies do not cover tornado-caused flood damages, but most will cover wind, hail and power failure.

3) Ask for temporary financial help. Some insurance companies will give an advance payment to help with damages. Keep the receipts for how the money was spent. Keep in mind you will have additional living expenses if you are unable to live in your home and have to continue to pay for your mortgage.

4) Fix any damages that can lead to more damage. Board up broken windows or put a tarp on a leaky roof to stop further damages to your home. Also make note of it.

5) Follow up weekly with your insurance company. Keep a record of your communications. If the insurance company is difficult, seek out an attorney with experience in property damage.

Maria Townsend

Greensboro

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The writer is an insurance benefits specialist.

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