The Tornado, The Mattress, & The Claim

During the days of May 3 through 6 in 1999, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, Texas and Tennessee experienced a huge tornadic event.  Approximately 66 storms swept through these States.  The most devastating was an F5 level tornado that struck Oklahoma City and the surrounding suburbs of Bridge Creek, Moore, Del City, Tinker Air Force Base, and Midwest City.  The storm claimed the lives of 48 people and caused $1.1 Billion in damage.  Many homes were wiped clean, leaving only rubble strewn slabs of which most were warped by the suction of the funnel.

A few days after the storms, a man walked into a catastrophe claims office for Farmers Insurance to file his claim.  His home had been devastated.  He worked with his claim adjuster listing the characteristics of his home and belongings that were missing.  The most interesting item he listed on his claim form was a mattress containing $25,000 in cash.  What he didn’t realize until then was that his policy only included coverage for up to $250 of cash in the home and that only added to his pain.

Most of us don’t keep large amounts of cash in our homes.  We prefer to have our checks automatically deposited into our checking accounts and then we log onto our bank and pay our bills without writing checks.  There are still those who don’t trust or use banks and live on a cash only basis.

  • Some people are survivors of the depression and believe their money is safer in their home, be it in a mattress or coffee can.
  • Others are new to our country and don’t initially have the opportunity to gain an account.  They cash their check and then use services at Wal-Mart, 7-11, or elsewhere to have money orders created to pay bills.

Even for those of us who do bank, there are other things in our homes that could be just as easily lost as the man’s mattress including:

  • Gold and silver coins or bullion
  • Stock certificates & valuable papers
  • Coin or stamp collections

In all these cases, most insurance companies have limits in their policies that cap the amount covered.

  • Cash is typically limited to $250 or $500
  • Silver & gold coins and bullion is limited to $250 or $500
  • Stock certificates & valuable papers typically have similar limits depending on the carrier

Most companies do offer higher limits either through optional blanket coverage or by scheduling.  If you happen to have these:

  • Check with your carrier to see about additional coverage.  It doesn’t cost much and it helps provide needed coverage for either a tornado, fire or even a break in.
  • Keep an inventory of what you have and store it on a removable USB memory driver that can be kept in a separate location such as a safe deposit box.
  • Take pictures of your valuable items to help document your claim.

A brief conversation with your insurance agent and a few precautions could serve you well at a time when it’s needed.  Do you have other suggestions you’d like to share?  Post them in the comments section of our blog or on our Facebook page.  We’ll all learn from each other.

Evie Wise
Evie Wise


Evie Wise
Evie Wise

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