Illinois tornadoes: What does insurance cover?

November 21, 2013 (CHICAGO)

One day you have a house. The next day you don't. Whether it is destroyed by a natural disaster, fire, or gas explosion, starting from scratch is going to take a lot of money unless you have the appropriate homeowners insurance. Even so, what exactly does it cover when you're left with only the clothes on your back?

"Typical household items like toothbrush and toothpaste, toiletries are not covered, but you might have clothing covered. So turn the receipts in and claim the losses," Jeffrey Junkas, Property Casualty Insurance Association, said.

Insurance expert Jeffrey Junkas says while consumers may not read all the fine print in their policies, they should, at the very least, understand what is covered. He says tornado or wind damage is included in a regular homeowner's policy. While the big items are covered, basic needs such as clothes may be covered under the contents portion of your policy. Junkas suggests purchasing a rider for additional coverage for high-priced items such as jewelry or furs. Experts says don't wait for a disaster to inventory your personal belongings.

"Ideally, what you want to do before the loss is go through the house, spend five minutes with video camera [to] take pictures of video, clothes, furniture," Junkas said.

When it comes to rebuilding you home, experts say make sure your policy keeps up with the times.

"Does it cover, for example, up to today's modern building codes? Is there inflationary, now increase in value?" Junkas said.

In light of this week's events, experts say take the time to read your policy or have a chat with tour insurance agent.

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