Insurers estimate that last week's string of fierce tornadoes that raged through parts of middle America will cost them at least $325 million, making it one of the top five costliest tornado events in recorded history.
The rash of storms and floods killed at least 40 people and razed more than 5,000 homes from Kansas to Tennessee. Some of the tornadoes whipped winds as high as 200 mph.
The American Red Cross reported last week that more than 5,200 families have been impacted by damage to their homes: 2,500 in Missouri, 700 in Kansas, 1,500 in Tennessee, 400 in Arkansas, and 145 in Kentucky. And more dire weather was expected.
The Insurance Information Institute, an educational organization that provides property and casualty insurance information, says that based on a preliminary survey of insurance companies the storm has caused at least $325 million in damage. Costs could rise as the storm systems continue eastward.
The largest tornado-related loss in U.S. history was in May 1999 when tornadoes and storms struck 18 states, including Kansas and Oklahoma, inflicting $1.6 billion in damage.
Homeowners insurance policies typically cover the dwelling, personal property and expenses related to the loss, like temporary housing.
For those who are left without a home after the string of tornadoes - or any other disaster that may strike - it can be an emotional, tumultuous time. But the Institute for Business & Home Safety, a group forged by the insurance industry, says there are a series of steps you should follow to get back on track, get your claims filed and paid, and ultimately rebuild or repair. Those steps are:
If you're not able to live in your home, you'll likely get an immediate advance payment, which will be a check against the total settlement amount. Once agreements are met on the value of the property, additional checks will be issued.
And if you have a mortgage on your house, the IBHS says the check for repairs to your home will usually be made out to both you and your mortgage lender. Lenders generally put the money in an escrow account and then pay for the repairs as the work is completed. It's a good idea to contact your lender to discuss the contractor's bid and details of the repair process.