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Guide to Disaster and Emergency Insurance Preparations

Tips for prepareing for the potential damage that often results from natural disasters, severe weather events, and emergency situations.

Table of Contents

Take steps to minimize damages

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

All water pipes should be properly insulated 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 dryer vent unobstructed

Secure outdoor furniture and loose items (such as grills)

Consider storm shutters or pre-cut covers for all windows

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.

Inventory and photograph your personal property including model numbers, serial numbers and purchase information. Keep copies, along with copies of your insurance policy in a safe location other than your home. 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 outside your home.

Familiarize yourself with your community’s emergency plan and prepare an emergency supplies kit. Be sure to include a disposable camera and a notebook and pens for use in documenting your losses, as well as your insurance policies, the phone numbers of your insurance agent, your insurance company's local claims office and home office in your list of emergency numbers.

Additional Resources

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, 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.

Make sure your address is visible from the street. One idea: paint your insurance company name, your policy number and your temporary address on a sheet of plywood.

Move important papers and items not covered by insurance to a safer location.

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.

Keep all of your receipts and document the time you spend securing your property.

Keep a record of all conversations with the insurance company including the place and time of the conversation and the names of the people involved.

Write down important claims information for each policy:

Agent's name: __________________________

Address: _______________________________

Phone number: _________________________

Insurance company: _____________________

Type of policy __________________________

Policy number __________________________

Renewal date ___________________________

Location of the policy ____________________

Number to report claims: ________________

Agent's name: __________________________


After a Flood

The following are guidelines for the period following a flood:

  • Know your homeowners and/or flood insurance policy numbers and bring policy forms with you if you have time to grab them as you leave your houses.
  • 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.
  • Avoid moving water.
  • Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
  • Stay away from downed power lines, and report them to the power company.
  • Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe.
  • Stay out of any building if it is surrounded by floodwaters.
  • 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.



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