By Insurance Information Institute, Special for USDR
With Tropical Storm Hermine bringing high winds and heavy rainfall to Florida and other East Coast states, the millions of Americans in the storm’s path should take some time to prepare, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).
Florida Governor Rick Scott has already declared a state of emergency for 42 of the state’s 67 counties. In addition, tropical storm watches have been issued for parts of South Carolina and North Carolina.
The I.I.I. recommends you take these five steps now.
- Keep Your Insurer’s Claims Phone Number Handy
If you experience damage from the storm, the first call will be to family and friends to tell them you are safe. The second will be to your insurance professional. Locate the correct contact information for your insurance professional or company, and keep it easily accessible in the event you need to file a claim.
- Prepare For Flooding
Find out if your county is offering sandbags so that you can protect your property—it could help keep flood waters away. Flood damage to vehicles is covered under a comprehensive auto insurance policy, but another step to take is simply to move your car to higher ground. Standard homeowners insurance policies do not cover flood damage. A separate flood policy is available from FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and from some private insurers. While it is too late to get flood coverage for Hermine—there is a 30-day waiting period for flood insurance to go into effect—peak hurricane season has just begun, so consider getting it now.
- Create A Home Inventory
An up-to-date home inventory can speed up the claims-filing process and substantiate losses for income tax purposes. “It’s not too late to go room to room to document your personal possessions, being sure to note the make and model of your most valuable items,” said Lynne McChristian of the I.I.I. “Take photographs and keep receipts, as a detailed home inventory speeds up the claims process and is necessary if you need to apply for disaster aid.” The I.I.I. has a free app that makes creating a home inventory simple. It’s available at www.KnowYourStuff.org.
- Check Your Hurricane Deductible
Most homeowners policies carry a special deductible that applies when the cause of damage is a hurricane. The exact dollar amount of this deductible is spelled out on your policy’s declarations page. Knowing your deductible in advance is important so that you are prepared for the amount you will need to pay out of pocket if you need to file a claim.
- Have—and Practice—An Evacuation Plan
Knowing where to go, and what to bring, if you must evacuate can make things much easier if you need to leave your home in the event of a disaster. This is especially important if you have children, pets, elderly relatives, or anyone with special needs. The I.I.I.’s Know Your Plan app can help with your evacuation plan and other steps you can take to keep yourself and your family safe during the storm.
Issues Update: Catastrophes; Hurricanes and Windstorm Deductibles
Facts and Statistics:
Florida Hurricane Fact File
South Carolina Hurricane Fact File
North Carolina Hurricane Fact File
Virginia Hurricane Fact File
Maryland Hurricane Fact File
Delaware Hurricane Fact File
New Jersey Hurricane Fact File
New York Hurricane Fact File
New England Hurricane Fact File
THE I.I.I. IS A NONPROFIT, COMMUNICATIONS ORGANIZATION SUPPORTED BY THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY.
SOURCE Insurance Information Institute