Recent tornado claims from the midwest and southern states are estimated to be over one billion dollars in damages. Generally, when people think of California, they think of earthquakes, wildfires and mudslides. However, over the last year, we have experienced unprecedented damage from rainfall and high winds. Southern California has experienced unusual prolonged wind gusts recorded up to 140 mph and has maintained an unusually cold climate this last year. Northern California has had its share of interesting weather too. The northern inland regions have seen their share of tornados in 2011. Thankfully, these incidents of tornados are isolated.
In March of 2011, a tornado went down Nicolaus Drive in the small town of Williams, California, leaving a one mile path of destruction. The EF0 rated tornado that went through Williams was subsequently re-rated and upgraded to an EF1 rating.
Events such as this isolated tornado damage homes in California in different ways than in homes of the midwest. In California, the building codes are different and usually do not require hurricane clips to secure roofs, so even a low grade tornado event in California may cause enough damage for a total loss of a roof or structure.
Generally, a tornado is a covered loss in California, where tornado claims are so few and far between that insurance carriers sometimes deny tornado claims based upon wear and tear or construction defect exclusions.
As the weather patterns change, Northern California may see more tornados touch down. Tornado claims are just like any other insurance claim, and should be brought to the carrier’s attention immediately as the statute of limitations begins to run from the date of loss.