Insurance Advisor Becomes Advocate after Tornado


Huddleston-Steele Engineering Inc.’s office was quiet around noon on April 10, 2009. Because it was Good Friday, several employees of the civil engineering and land surveying firm had taken the day off. Others were out in the field or away for lunch.

Partner Donnie Steele was watching the local news while eating lunch at home when he saw that a tornado had touched down in Murfreesboro near the office. Another partner actually saw the funnel cloud forming and warned employees about the impending tornado in time for them to take cover in the back of the building.

When Steele reached the office after the storm blew over, he was relieved to see that no one was hurt. However, the building was completely destroyed.

The firm was eager to get up and running as soon as possible so they could continue to meet client deadlines. The partners immediately called a moving company, found temporary office space, reserved the last moving truck available in Murfreesboro and contacted their insurance company, Miller Loughry Beach Insurance Services (MLB).


Two insurance advisors were at the building as soon as the roads were cleared of downed power lines. They made sure the insurance carrier’s adjustors arrived quickly and oversaw the claim process.

“They were there right away helping with decisions we needed to make, interpreting our coverage and helping us with the claims process,” Steele said.

Representatives from the insurance carrier arrived Saturday morning to inspect the vehicles and building. More teams arrived on Monday and Wednesday. Huddleston-Steele’s insurance advisor was there each time.

Huddleston-Steele also needed to recover about 52,000 drawings that were damaged in the storm.

“Some were paper, onion skin, mylar and sepia dating back to 1955,” Steele said. “They had to be restored by a specialist, or they would glue together, or ink would run, or they’d mold.”

Their MLB insurance advisor helped ensure they had proper coverage for the drawings when they were in transit and while being restored in Rochester, N.Y.

“Years ago our advisor recommended we get a business owner policy that covers additional expenses, rent, utilities and valuable papers,” Steele said. “That saved us. If it hadn’t been for that, we may not have been able to save all of our drawings.”


The entire time Huddleston-Steele was working out of two temporary offices, they were rebuilding on the same site the tornado demolished. Their MLB advisor helped secure the insurance they needed at both of the temporary locations as well as the builder’s risk and liability coverage for the construction site. He also handled the necessary coverage for the permanent building.

“Before the tornado we were leasing, but afterward we purchased the property and built the building ourselves,” Steele said. “We needed the proper insurance coverage for this building, and our advisor made sure we had all the policies we needed.”

The claim process continues while Huddleston-Steele works out of its new home.

“Our carrier has been good to us, but we feel like Miller Loughry Beach is our advocate, going to bat for us,” Steele said. “Our advisor has made the entire process bearable.”

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