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News Are you ready? Prepare Yourself and Your Home for Hurricane Season

8/04/2020
  • Division of Insurance
  • Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation

Forecasters anticipate that this year’s hurricane season, which started June 1, will be above average. As we enter the peak period, the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation and the Division of Insurance want to make sure Massachusetts residents are prepared for the worst if they are in the path of a hurricane.

Here are some of the tips that you should consider following to ensure readiness in case of an emergency:

  • Review your homeowners’ insurance policy and understand what coverage you have and what coverage you might need, including but not limited to, additional living expenses and flood insurance.
  • Create a home inventory and take photos and video of your home and belongings. Keep sales receipts and make note of the model and the serial numbers of items.
  • Trim trees back from your home and ensure gutters are secure and clear of debris. Pre-cut and pre-drill plywood for windows.
  • Clear your yard and move furniture, grills, and toys under shelter. These items may blow around in high winds.
  • Have your go-bag ready. Be sure it’s in an easily accessible location and includes:
    • Cash: If the power goes out, credit cards may not work. Keep cash on hand for replenishing supplies.  
    • Medications: Pharmacies might be closed, and hospitals could be overwhelmed. Keep a backup supply (at least several days' worth) of important medications like blood pressure medicine and insulin.
    • Basic supplies: A battery-powered weather radio, flashlights, and a first-aid kit.
    • Important Documents: Social Security cards, passports, birth certificates, driver’s licenses and more could all be lost or destroyed in a hurricane. Keep copies of these documents in a waterproof container. Include a copy of your insurance policies so that you can quickly file a claim once the storm has passed. 

If your home is damaged during a hurricane, notify your insurance company or agent as soon as possible. In addition, homeowners should:

  • Protect and secure damaged property to the greatest extent possible to prevent further damage and salvage what you can.
  • Note and photograph all damage and losses. This will assist in settling claims.
  • Be sure everything is considered in the claim. Back-up your claim with written estimates.
  • If hiring a public adjuster to assist with the claims process, be sure they are licensed with the Division of Insurance.
  • Have a signed and dated contract that outlines the services provided and the adjuster’s fee. And keep in mind that if you hire a licensed public adjuster to handle your claim and then change your mind, state law allows cancel your contract within 3 days, subject to any emergency expenses paid by the adjuster during those three days (this language should also be in your contract, in bold type!)
  • Hire a registered contractor for repairs. If your adjuster recommends a contractor they’ve worked with, check their registration status and complaint, arbitration, and guaranty fund histories with the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. Never hire a contractor who isn’t registered and be sure their registration is current at the time you sign your contract with them.

 

To learn about additional items you should include in your go-bag, visit the National Association of Insurance Commissioner’s Go-Bag Resource website. More information about homeowners’ and flood insurance, as well as information about the licensure status of a public adjuster, can be found on the Division website at www.mass.gov/doi

Division of Insurance 

The primary mission of the Division of Insurance (DOI) is to monitor the solvency of its licensees in order to promote a healthy, responsive and willing marketplace for consumers who purchase insurance products. Protection of consumer interests is of prime importance to the Division and is safeguarded by providing accurate and unbiased information so consumers may make informed decisions and by intervening on behalf of consumers who believe they have been victimized by unfair business practices.

Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation 

The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation protects and empowers consumers through advocacy and education, and ensures a fair playing field for the Massachusetts businesses its agencies regulate.
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