By Sara Thomson
Information is the best way to prep. Hurricane Harvey has really helped open many people’s eyes to the devastation that can be caused by flooding. In the Atlantic area, hurricane season lasts from June 1st to November 30th so here is some help to to follow for hurricane preparation:
- Gather information
- Plan and take action
- What to know if filing a claim
Keep a list of contact information that includes family or friends’ numbers (home and cell), local hospitals and utilities, County law enforcement, public safety fire/rescue, and your insurance agent. Know your risk for floods or hazards and plan accordingly. Floods are one thing your homeowners insurance policy does not cover. Consider adding a flood insurance policy to your account, ask your Hometown representative for a quote.
Plan and Take Action:
Put together a supplies kit and find a storage location. Have an emergency plan for hurricanes, floods, thunderstorms & lightning, high winds, and storm surges. FEMA evacuation guidelines include planning how and where you will go if you are advised to evacuate.
During an evacuation, listen to the radio to hear any local evacuation instructions. Take your emergency supply kit and leave early enough to avoid being trapped by severe weather or by congested streets. If time allows, secure your home and unplug any electrical equipment. Unless there is a risk of flooding, do not unplug your freezers and refrigerators. Wear sturdy shoes and clothing that will provide protection such as long pants and shirts. Be alert for road hazards and do not drive into any flooded areas, washed-out road, bridges or downed powerlines.
If you don’t evacuate and you are waiting out a storm, be careful, there is still danger. Most storms have an “eye,” the area of calm without high winds or rain. After the eye passes the winds will pick up and the rain will return quickly back into the hurricane or superstorm. Remember tornadoes are often spawned by hurricanes so be alert and listen to the National Weather Service on a radio.
Wait until the area is declared safe before returning home or venturing outside. Recovering from a disaster is usually a gradual process. When the situation is stabilized: FEMA, the American Red Cross and property restoration teams will arrive. Getting estimates and obtaining insurance approval can take anywhere from 7 to 10 days, since the town, insurance and a contractor all have to decide on what steps to take.
What to know if you are filing a claim:
If your home was damaged and you have insurance, you will likely be filing a claim. Some tips to help the process go more smoothly:
- Contact your insurer as soon as possible to begin the process.
- Document your loss. The insurance adjuster will inspect the damage, but it is a good idea to take photographs and document the damage as thoroughly as possible.
- Check with your insurer before discarding any damaged stuff. Adjusters usually want to see proof of loss. If, however, you are required to discard them for safety, take photographs.
- Many insurers use text messages to notify you about the status of your claim. If so, sign up for the alerts. You’ll find out faster when your estimate is available and when a payment has been sent.
- Know what emergency services are available. Many companies will dispatch an approved emergency services company to protect your home from further damage. If the damage has left your home unlivable, insurance might be able to provide you with a check for additional living expenses, if the correct insurance is applied.
- Keep a claim diary. Note everyone you speak to about your claim: name, title and contact information. Also, keep track of the date, time and issues discussed. The better organized you are, the simpler and easier the claims process will be.