Before a Disaster
Review your insurance policies to see if you have adequate coverage, including whether you have or need flood insurance. If you're not sure you have enough coverage, talk to your agent or insurance company. It may be a good idea to contact local contractors in your area to get an idea about rebuilding costs.
Check what your policy covers. This includes knowing whether you can hire someone to make emergency repairs, whether your insurer will reimburse you for repairs you make yourself, or if your policy will pay for expenses if you’re required to bring homes up to the current building code.
Write down important claims information for each policy:
Agent's name: __________________________
Phone number: _________________________
Insurance company: _____________________
Type of policy __________________________
Policy number __________________________
Renewal date ___________________________
Inventory and photograph your personal property including model numbers, serial numbers and purchase information. Check out this Home Inventory Checklist from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) as a guide. Consider backing up your inventory by videotaping or photographing each room in your house and storing this visual record either in a weather-proof safe or outside your home.
Familiarize yourself with your community’s emergency plan and prepare an emergency supplies kit. Be sure to include a disposable camera (in case you can't charge your phone), and a notebook and pens for use in documenting your losses, as well as your insurance policies and the phone numbers of your insurance agent and your insurance company in your list of emergency numbers (if you need to evacuate and don't have time to get your insurance policies as you leave your houses).
Take Steps to Minimize Damages
When the weather is nice, take the time to look around your home and property and consider the following to help minimize potential damages that can result from a storm:
- Trim trees back from your house and away from power lines
- Clear gutters and downspouts
- Inspect the underside of the roof for signs of leaks
- Clear walkways and driveways of hazards
- Make sure the chimney is clean and in good working order
- Properly insulate water pipes to prevent freezing
- Have a battery back-up for any electric smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors
- Check the heating system and make sure heat is being delivered to all vents
- Keep the dryer vent unobstructed
- Secure outdoor furniture and other loose items (such as grills)
- Consider storm shutters or pre-cut covers for all windows
After a Disaster
BE SAFE! Never try to re-enter your home or attempt any repairs until it is safe to do so.
Contact your insurance company as soon as possible. While you wait for the insurance claims adjuster or if you hired your own public adjuster, take action to prevent further damage to your property - cover holes in the roof and windows and remove as much water as possible from the house. Do not make permanent repairs until the adjuster has inspected the property. You also want to make sure your address is visible from the street. If you've had significant damage, consider spray-painting your address on a piece of plywood.
You can also take photographs of the damage. This is especially important if you must throw away items of value that are bacteria-laden or move items before insurance adjuster has seen them.
Check out our Post Disaster Claims Guide below for more information about the steps to take following a disaster.
After a Flood
The following are guidelines for the period following a flood:
- Listen for news reports to learn whether the community's water supply is safe to drink.
- Avoid floodwaters: water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline, or raw sewage. Water may also be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines. Stay away from downed power lines, and report them to the power company.
- Avoid moving water and be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
- Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe.
- Use extreme caution when entering buildings; there may be hidden damage, particularly in foundations.
- Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits, and leaching systems as soon as possible. Damaged sewage systems are serious health hazards.
- Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwater can contain sewage and chemicals.
Contact for Guide to Disaster and Emergency Insurance Preparations
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