The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

May 26, 2011

AP Enterprise: Tornado victims often uninsured

ATLANTA —  

 Many of the states hammered by what’s already the deadliest year for tornadoes in more than half a century have among the nation’s highest rates of homes without hazard insurance despite being among the most twister-prone, data analyzed by The Associated Press shows.
That means the regions that most need the insurance are often the exact places that don’t have much of it. It also means many tornado victims may have a hard time getting compensated for their losses, putting more pressure on the federal government to help even though its assistance is limited by law.
With more than 450 deaths and billions of dollars in damage in the past month alone, regulators are calling for more education about the importance of homeowners insurance and further efforts to make it affordable and available to all. But whether to buy it is still considered a personal choice and there’s no push to mandate it federally.
The fallout is on stark display in Mississippi and Arkansas, two of seven Southern states battered last month by twisters. Mississippi ranks second in the nation for the percentage of homes without insurance covering wind damage yet fourth on the list of states that have had the most tornadoes touch down in the past five years. Arkansas ranks fourth for uninsured homes and 10th for being tornado prone, according to the AP’s analysis.
Missouri, site of Sunday’s tornado outbreak with at least 125 dead, falls somewhere in the middle on hazard insurance despite being the fourth most tornado-prone state. Kansas and Oklahoma, the sites of deadly tornadoes Tuesday, also fall in the middle and rank No. 2 and No. 6 on the list of most tornado-prone states.
States with the highest rates of uninsured homeowners also tend to have a higher incidence of homes without mortgages, meaning owners don’t have to answer to banks requiring coverage. The uninsured can turn to aid groups and the federal government for relief — but often not for full compensation.

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