Rethink Your Risk Before the Storm
Natural disasters can strike anywhere at any time. In fact, the U.S. has experienced significant shifts in the frequency, severity and location of disasters.
Yet according to 2017 NAIC study, consumers aren’t connecting the dots between these shifts and the impact on their home insurance needs. Fewer than 22 percent of homeowners view weather patterns or natural disasters as an important factor when updating their homeowners insurance policy. Missing these links can be costly.
Before a storm hits, consider the following tips to keep your family and home safe:
- Make sure you have bottled water, a first aid kit, flashlights, a battery-powered radio, non-perishable food items, blankets, clothing, prescription drugs, eyeglasses, personal hygiene supplies and a small amount of cash or traveler’s checks.
- For personal safety, identify what storm shelter is available to your family and prepare an evacuation plan. Choose two meeting places: one right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, such as a fire; and one outside your neighborhood in case you can’t return home.
- Re-evaluate your risk profile at least once a year to ensure your existing homeowners policy provides the protection you and your family needs. Plan to review your policy at the same time each year. Note that floods are not covered by a typical homeowners policy, so you’ll need additional coverage.
- Take steps to mitigate some of the potential damage to your home from natural disasters. Begin with a survey of your home and the area around your home to identify objects like yard debris that could compound damage to your home in high winds or under threat of wildfire. Your state insurance department or state department of emergency management can help you get started on a mitigation plan. Some states may even have programs to help pay for mitigation upgrades for homes in high threat areas.
- If you need to evacuate your home, turn off all utilities and disconnect appliances to reduce the chance of additional damage and electrical shock when utilities are restored.
- Keep a readily available list of 24-hour contact information for your insurance agent and insurance company. Make a list that includes your policy numbers, your insurance company and insurance agent's phone numbers, website addresses and mailing addresses. Also, check to see if the company or your agent has set up an emergency information hotline in case of storm damage. It is a good idea to store this information, and a home inventory, in a waterproof/fireproof safe or a safe deposit box. Also consider sending an electronic copy to someone you trust. If you have to evacuate your home, you want this information to be easily available to you.
- A home inventory can be invaluable when deciding how much insurance your life situation requires to adequately insure your home in the path of a natural disaster. Get more homeowners insurance tips.
- Download the Insure U Disaster Prep Guides to help you determine the best course of action before, during and after specific disaster types. The guides include information and tips for tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and wildfires.
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