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Tags: seniors | insurance | tornadoes

3 Ways Seniors Can Protect Their Assets From Tornadoes

3 Ways Seniors Can Protect Their Assets From Tornadoes
Alicia Cusmano

Maxime Rieman By Monday, 19 April 2021 06:36 PM Current | Bio | Archive

As retirement approaches, many may find themselves considering where they want to spend their golden years. From the lakes of the Ozarks to the golf courses of Florida, there are many financial considerations that come into play when deciding. However, one often-forgotten yet dire concern comes into play when you think about the extreme weather you might face in your new town.

Spring kicks off tornado season, which presents a unique set of challenges, given that meteorologists consider tornadoes nearly impossible to predict with reliable accuracy. For seniors living in the Midwest or the South, tornadoes can present a significant threat. A fixed retirement income makes recovering from tornado damage more difficult, and limited mobility could make it hard to act quickly and reach safety before danger strikes. 

Seniors can mitigate the financial risks associated with living in severe weather regions by planning ahead and following these three pieces of advice.

1.Make sure you add tornado coverage to your insurance policy

“Tornado Alley” in the U.S. stretches across the Midwest, from Oklahoma to Texas, spawning hundreds or thousands of storms each year. However, tornadoes are also extremely common in many other parts of the U.S., ultimately causing millions or billions of dollars in damage each year. In fact, around 1,150 tornadoes touch down in the U.S. annually, making the U.S. the world’s hub of tornado activity.

Your first and best way to mitigate the financial risk of these storms is to acquire a homeowners insurance policy. Even if you own your home outright and are not required to purchase homeowners insurance, acquiring a policy is a strategic decision. Standard policies cover perils related to tornadoes, but it’s important to check with your carrier and secure additional coverage if needed.

Let’s look at Texas, for example, to illustrate the importance of taking severe weather into consideration when mapping out the best place for you to retire. The Lone Star State experiences the largest number of tornadoes, averaging around 140 twisters annually. The state may be among the cheapest places to live (good for retirement!), but homeowners insurance policies are among the priciest in the country.

The high price of purchasing a policy can increase during an extremely active weather season, so it’s important to plan ahead.

2.Create an emergency fund to avoid cash flow disruptions

Tornadoes tend to cause a tremendous amount of damage when they form and touch down. The average damage per storm is around $2.5 million. The U.S. government provides some money for recovery, but not nearly enough to cover all of the damage. Since 2010, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has provided around $360 million to aid recovery, which is just a fraction of the total loss damage.

Most homeowners receive coverage from their homeowners insurance policy, but as with FEMA’s emergency assistance, that money does not materialize instantly into your bank account. There’s an interim, between filing a claim with FEMA or your insurance company and receiving funds, in which you may have major expenses but limited financial resources at hand. This is where an emergency fund can help you.

How much should you have in your emergency fund? The “rule of thumb” is three to six months of expenses. But that is assuming you can predict your living expenses during this time.

In addition to the standard savings, consider that you may also need money to pay for a hotel or Airbnb for an extended period of time, and potentially a car rental if your car is damaged during the storm. Like tornadoes themselves, damage costs can be unpredictable, making it necessary to have money available in case you need it.

3.Make targeted improvements to your home

Tornadoes don’t need to hit your home to cause massive damage. The weather patterns that create tornadoes often produce hail, heavy rain and winds not associated with the tornado. What’s more, if a tornado does hit, winds can increase around the area even outside of the cone.

Consider upgrading your home to protect against strong winds, hail and heavy rain, starting with your roof. Heavy-duty metal roofing offers protection against each of these. It’s also the most effective against storm-driven debris that’s common with strong tornadoes. For a lower-cost option that still provides some protection against stronger winds, consider architectural shingles. They’re closer in price to traditional asphalt shingles but are rated for winds of 130 mph or more, depending on the material classification and installation design.

Your windows will also need attention. Single-pane windows are likely to be ineffective against wind damage from tornadoes. Double-pane windows can withstand higher winds, reducing the chance of a dangerous blowout from the wind. However, you should also add exterior shutters to your home if you live in an area where tornadoes are common. Not only will shutters keep out winds that might break windows, but they can also serve as a buffer between your home and debris kicked up by the storm.

Remember: Tornadoes are nearly impossible to predict. A storm shelter could help protect your life, but insurance, emergency funds and targeted home renovations will give you peace of mind that you can more easily pick up the pieces should the worst happen.

Maxime Rieman is Product Manager at ValuePenguin. Educating and assisting shoppers about financial products has been Rieman's focus, which led her to joining ValuePenguin, a consumer research and advice company based in New York. Previously, she was product marketing director at CoverWallet and launched the personal insurance team at NerdWallet.

© 2022 Newsmax Finance. All rights reserved.

As retirement approaches, many may find themselves considering where they want to spend their golden years. From the lakes of the Ozarks to the golf courses of Florida, there are many financial considerations that come into play when deciding. However, one often-forgotten...
seniors, insurance, tornadoes
Monday, 19 April 2021 06:36 PM
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