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By Bialke Agency

Taking Action During Severe Weather Season Arrives in Minnesota

May marks the beginning of severe weather season in Minnesota and this year; the state has already witnessed its first reportable tornado touchdown.

KARE-11 news recently reported that a tornado touched down near Hayfield, located outside of Rochester, on May 23rd.

The tornado, which was classified as an EF-1, caused significant damage to several homes and properties in the area. Fortunately, no injuries were reported, but the incident serves as a reminder of the importance of being prepared for such events.

Keep reading for a short but comprehensive list of preparation tips we put together to help you better protect your home, property, and vehicles from potential disasters before they happen.

(1) Review your insurance policy. Ensure that you have adequate coverage for various types of disasters, such as tornadoes, severe storms, and floods. Check for any gaps or limitations in your policy that could prevent you from seeking help after storm-related damage.

(2) Secure your property. Inspect your home and property for any loose or damaged items that could potentially become projectiles when high winds come through. Secure or store these items in a locked shed or garage if possible.

Before storms start rolling in, take down any hanging foliage, flags, or outdoor decor that could come flying off the home when the winds pick up.

Secure outdoor furniture and furnishings. Take down tents or canvas-covered patio awnings or gazebos that could become airborne.

(3) Trim trees and shrubs. Regularly trim trees and shrubs around your property to reduce the risk of falling branches or debris during storms. Make sure established trees have strong root systems and are not starved for water. Well-trimmed and cared-for trees are healthier and can better weather damage.

(4) Consider storm shutters or impact-resistant windows. These are not typically seen on standard homes in the Twin Cities, and impact-resistant windows can be expensive to install, but they can help protect your forever home from flying debris and high winds.

(5) Create an emergency kit. Assemble a kit with essential supplies, such as non-perishable food, water, first-aid supplies, blankets to protect from falling debris or to reduce dust, N95 Industrial-grade masks (again to help with dust and debris in the air), a battery-powered radio, and a possible backup energy system.

(6) Develop an emergency plan. Create and practice a safety plan for your family, including designated meeting places, evacuation routes, and even emergency contact numbers and safety words in case children are separated from their parents.

(7) Stay informed about weather-related incidents. Monitoring weather reports and following instructions from local authorities in a timely fashion during severe weather events can save lives.

(8) Protect important documents. Keep records updated and accessible to authorized and trusted persons in your family unit. Keep important documents and contact information, such as insurance policies and identification, banking statements and contacts, vehicle titles, business documents, and more, in a waterproof and fireproof container.

(9) Reinforce garage doors. Ensure that your garage doors are closed and locked, and consider installing reinforced doors that can withstand high winds.

(10) Keep your weather shelter clear. If possible, designate a safe shelter room in the lower level of the home — a reinforced area to take shelter in during severe weather events.

The safest place is an interior room of the basement, but if your home does not have a basement, go to an inside room without windows on the lowest floor available.

Think about a center hallway, bathroom, or closet—especially one under a stairwell. Keep that space open, clean, and accessible at all times. For added protection, get under something strong and sturdy, such as a heavy table, slate-top pool table, or workbench.

Making an Insurance Claim

When the time comes to make an insurance claim because of a catastrophic event, there are some things you should be prepared to do and expect.

(1) Report the claim promptly: Contact your insurance company as soon as possible to report the damage and initiate the claims process.

(2) Document the damage: Take photos or videos of the damaged areas to support your claim.

(3) Temporary repairs: If necessary, make temporary repairs to prevent further damage, but keep all receipts for reimbursement. If you continue to have increased damage to a property because you’re waiting on the claims process or a repair vendor to step in, you may be denied coverage of that expanding damage.

(4) Adjuster visit: An insurance adjuster will likely visit your property to assess the damage and determine the appropriate coverage. Be prepared to allow access and answer any questions.

(5) Claim settlement: Once the claim is processed, you will receive a settlement amount based on your policy coverage and the extent of the damage. Remember, it’s essential to cooperate with your insurance company and provide all necessary information to ensure a smooth claims process.

If you have any questions or concerns about your insurance coverage or need assistance preparing for severe weather events, don’t hesitate to reach out to the team at Bialke Insurance.

Visit BialkeInsurance.com/contact to schedule a free insurance policy review or to obtain additional information.

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Licensed Sales Professional

Thomas Allen

Thomas graduated from Winona State University with the intention of pursuing a career in insurance.

That decision was based on a passion to be a part of an industry that helps people in their time of need. He wants to be able to provide peace of mind so the clients he serves can live their lives worry-free.

In his free time, Thomas likes to watch college football, play guitar, and golf, and attend concerts with friends. He also enjoys just hanging out with his two puppies — Mauser and Jojo.