Tornadoes Devastate Central Florida

Floridians were probably happily celebrating the end of 2006 hurricane season and a respite from severe weather, when tornadoes struck on Friday.

According to the San Franscisco Chronicle, there were 19 confirmed dead by Saturday.

There were three separate tornadoes that touched down in a path from Sumter County to New Smyrna Beach. The Orlando Sentinel reports that the storms were rated as high as category F3. A tornado that reaches F3 will have wind speeds from 136 to 165 mph.

In fact, these are the first tornadoes to be rated using the new enhanced Fujita scale, so these were actually EF3's. With an estimated 160 mph winds, these were at the high end of the EF3 scale.

With these kinds of winds, damage will be extensive and severe. All the reports coming out of the areas most impacted indicate that damage inflicted qualifies the area as a disaster zone.

While people pick up the pieces, they will also have to begin the process of filing insurance claims. In widespread disasters, filing claims can be an arduous task. Insurers are overwhelmed; claimants are anxious. The simple act of taking a picture to document damage may be impossible because the camera is also destroyed. All this can slow the process down.

Insurers will have to expect claims from this severe weather event to be in the millions.

Unfortunately, many people who have insurance for hurricane may not have insurance for tornadoes. Also, since many policies will divide up types of coverage, requiring people to buy separate endorsements for wind, rain and other types of damage, many people may be left high and dry when it comes to money from their insurer.

Monique L. Attinger
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