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Topeka tornado anniversary reminder of recovery considerations

TOPEKA, KS — Kansans, and especially Topekans, will pause this month to reflect on one of the worst tornado disasters in Kansas history—an F5 rated tornado that devastated Topeka and killed 16 people on June 8, 1966.

The deadly tornado was part of an 11-day outbreak across the state 50 years ago. The Topeka property damage estimate was more than $250 million (nearly $700 million in today’s dollars). In Topeka, there were 820 homes destroyed and 3,000 more damaged. A total of 250 businesses were destroyed, and nearly 2,400 were damaged.

Ken Selzer, CPA, Kansas Commissioner of Insurance, reminds Kansans that, following a major storm or disaster, insurance concerns can be lessened if property owners follow some specific guidelines on how to proceed:

  • Contact your agent or insurance company immediately.
  • Keep a record of conversations with your agent or company. Write down the date and time, the person’s name and a summary of each call.
  • Make a list of all damaged property, and take photos.
  • Get instructions from your company’s adjuster before calling anyone to repair or replace damaged property. Your insurer’s visual inspection of your loss may be required before claims are paid.
  • The adjuster may ask you for a list of all damaged property with the date, price and place of purchase. Keep a copy of this information in a Personal Home Inventory booklet or on your phone with a MyHomeScr.APP.book application from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

Adjusters usually handle the largest losses first if a widespread disaster occurs. But when the time comes for your claim work, remember the following:

  • Be present when your adjuster inspects your property.
  • Your insurance company adjuster will have employee identification, and he/she will not charge you a fee.
  • Beware of questionable or unfamiliar contractors. Always get more than one bid if possible, and hire local, reputable contractors to make the repairs.
  • Don’t accept an unfair settlement. If you can’t reach an agreement with your insurance company, contact the Kansas Insurance Department’s Consumer Assistance Hotline at 800-432-2484 or use the online chat feature on the home page of our website, www.ksinsurance.org.

If a major widespread natural disaster occurs, the department has a Catastrophic Team formed to assist insured property owners at the disaster location. We will assist consumers as well as insurance company representatives in handling claims information on the spot. We would also post updated information on the department’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/kansasinsurancedepartment .

“Living in Kansas brings with it the threat of severe weather,” Commissioner Selzer said. “Having appropriate insurance coverage, and knowing what to do after a weather event, is peace of mind protection against a devastating property loss caused by nature.” 

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