If you help run a school system, library, or even an entire city, it is vital to have a natural disaster plan in place that can be implemented at a moment’s notice. Both private and public properties may suffer extensive damage after a tornado strikes, and members of the public will be looking to you for information and guidance—which may be hard to provide if your institution does not have proper coverage. Attorney Bill Voss examines insurance options for public entities that can make it easier to rebuild and serve the public after a tornado.
Special Tornado Damage Considerations for Municipal Buildings
Tornados have the ability to destroy whole cities and counties in a matter of minutes, causing a flood of insurance claims from homeowners and businesses. While there are a few options for compensation for cities and towns after a disaster, the best defense a public entity has against a disaster is its property damage insurance.
Managers and operators in the public sector should carefully consider the coverages and limitations in a tornado damage policy, especially when it comes to:
- Property damage. Most property damage policies pay to repair damage to a covered structure and the contents housed inside. However, policyholders should consider the specific needs and features of their public entities rather than a one-size-fits-all policy. For example, not all policies will pay for debris removal, water intrusion, or replacement of specialized or high-value equipment. Your entity may require a policy extension with its own deductible to cover these additional costs.
- Code upgrade coverage. Many municipalities operate out of buildings that were constructed over a hundred years ago, and damage to a historical property will have to be repaired in a way that is compliant with current building codes. Ordinance and law coverage, also called code upgrade coverage, can pay for the added cost of installing new plumbing and electrical systems in an aging library, city hall, or police department.
- Commercial auto coverage. Tornados can cause a sudden loss of entire vehicle fleets, including damage to fire trucks, school buses, police cars, city buses, and ambulances. A strong commercial auto policy will include comprehensive coverage for non-collision events (such as a tornado) as well as pay to replace any GPS devices, medical instruments, or other specialized equipment in covered vehicles.
- Equipment breakdown. Municipal services such as water and sewer facilities, sanitation and recycling centers, solid waste management, and street and road maintenance departments may lose the ability to perform normal operations due to the loss of equipment. Breakdown coverage can pay to replace damaged machinery, allowing the service to take on the added burden of city repairs and demolition.
- Data loss protection. All public entities use software programs to keep financial records and perform daily business operations. Extended power outages can cause the loss of ability to connect to the internet, access city files and documents, and serve customers online. Data loss protection can restore the internal networks of public schools, benefits offices, parks and recreation departments, and other government agencies.
- Umbrella coverage. Tornado damage costs can quickly max out policy limits, leaving public entities to pay for additional costs out of pocket. Umbrella insurance is a policy extension that provides an extra amount (chosen by the policyholder) if the cost of the damage has exceeded policy limits.
- Business interruption. Business income loss, also called business interruption, can be invaluable after a large-loss event. This coverage replaces up to six months of lost revenue after a covered event, giving operators the funds they need to perform repairs, open a temporary location, and cover increased costs of rent or transportation.
If you need help with your tornado damage insurance claim, we can work to get you full and fair payment to make repairs and reopen your doors. Please contact the Voss Law Firm at 1-888-991-3212 or simply fill out the form on this page today to get answers to your questions.