Tornado? Natural disaster? Are you covered?

  • Published
  • By Legal Claims Office
  • 82nd Training Wing
If you've been following the news lately, you're reminded that disasters, whether man-made or natural, take many forms. Military members face the potential for catastrophic losses of personal property from a number of events, not just a bad permanent change of station move.

Which leads to the natural question: Can the military help me recover my losses?

The Military Personnel and Civilian Employees Claims Act provides protection from extraordinary hazards such as violent acts of nature and other events affecting the military installation that other members and employees do not face to the same degree.

Storms ordinarily are not considered extraordinary hazards, but if they are of an extreme intensity or cause damage to an unexpected degree of severity, they may be covered. MPCECA claims should be submitted directly to the Claims Service Center in Dayton, Ohio. The Air Force CSC determines whether a claim is payable on a case-by-case basis.

The CSC only considers claims for loss or damage from military and federal civilian employees whose property was located at an authorized location on or off base. In addition, the CSC only processes the claims of Air Force employees, so members of other services must file with their respective military branch.

Note that the Air Force does not pay for the full replacement value of your property. Rather, the Air Force member is paid based on the depreciated value of their property.

The MPCECA is secondary to any private insurance you may have. Before filing a claim, all covered federal employees must first file claims for damage or loss with their own private insurance company. Once you have completed and received your final insurance settlement letter, you may start the Air Force claims process by gathering the required documentation and filing online from a government computer at, or by calling 1-877-754-1212.

If you suffer damage from an extraordinary hazard, you can take the following steps to help the CSC process your claim more quickly:

First, report the damage or loss to your base security forces squadron. Take photos of the damage and, if possible, of the cause of the damage.

Next, complete your claim with your private insurer, if you have one. Additionally, because the CSC must inspect the alleged damage in order to process a claim, the CSC advises against having damages repaired prior to completing the Air Force claims process. If you must have the damage repaired, please contact the CSC first.

Do you need renter's insurance? Absolutely! There are many instances where lighting, hail storms or other "act of God" events would not be payable by the Air Force, but would be covered under a renter's insurance policy.

Normally, you can purchase renter's insurance to cover damages and losses from your leased quarters. Renter's insurance covers several types of losses to your personal property - high value items, food losses from power outages, damage from most "named perils", and damages from water leaks, to include a waterbed.

You probably have a deployment bag. Well how about a disaster bag? Gather all important papers and documents (passports, marriage and birth certificates, vehicle titles, insurance policies, receipts for expensive items, etc.) in your disaster bag and place it in a safe, central, easy to grab location in case you have to evacuate your quarters. You should also include important medical documents/records and medicines in a "grab and run" bag.

Second, make a detailed video tape record of your property or an inventory of your expensive items. Ask yourself what you have and what it is worth. Remember items like DVD/CD players, VCRs, big screen televisions, computers, furniture, entertainment centers, china, dishes, silverware, pots and pans, clothing for yourself and family members, uniforms, garden and lawn equipment, firearms, jewelry, collectible items (baseball cards, figurines, paintings), and children's toys. Include make, model and serial number.

Don't store the information in your quarters, but send it to someone in a safe location.

Finally, during a disaster, protect your property. Unplug electrical items to prevent damage from power surges. Secure outdoor items to prevent them from flying around causing additional damage. When possible, protect your vehicle. Parking under a tree, building or power lines could result in damage from falling debris.

For additional information on claims procedures and insurance benefits, you may visit the Air Force CSC's website at If you have additional questions, please contact the Legal Office at (940) 676-7200.