Hurricanes, Insurance, and Preparation
From June through November, hurricanes are at their peak. During a hurricane, heavy rains and catastrophic winds barrel through and can severely damage or destroy homes and businesses. To help you prepare and remain safe, below is a checklist for your review.
For a quick evacuation, keep the following items in an emergency backpack:
- A gallon of water per family member and nonperishable foods
- Can opener, plastic cups and eating utensils
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Battery-operated radio
- Change of clothing for each family member
- Contact information for your family and a relative or friend out-of-state
- First-aid kit
- Personal identification cards for each family member
- Personal hygiene items and hand sanitizer
- Medications that are needed regularly
Homebound kits are filled with important items necessary when you cannot leave your home for several days due to a crisis. Some important items to have are:
- Three gallons of water per family member
- Canned food for at least three days and can opener
- Pet food and supplies for three days
- Toilet paper
- Extra personal hygiene items
- Unscented bleach
- Books, games and other forms of entertainment
- Paper and pencils
- Battery-operated radio and television
- First-aid kit
Additional Preparation Tips:
- Install hurricane straps made of galvanized metal. Hurricane straps help hold the roof and walls together in high winds.
- Invest in storm shutters. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows and glass doors. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” marine plywood, cut to fit. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking. Have extra nails, tarps and plywood available.
- Reinforce or replace garage doors. High winds can damage garage doors or blow them in, and if wind enters your garage, it can cause dangerous and expensive structural damage.
- Remove trees and trim branches that could fall on your home; clear away yard debris. The distance between your property and any nearby tree(s) should always be greater than the height the tree(s) will reach when it is fully grown.
- Anchor or remove outdoor furniture and other outdoor objects. High winds can pick up trash cans, grills, clay pots, and other outdoor objects and turn them into airborne missiles. Storage sheds and other outbuildings should be securely anchored, either to a permanent foundation or with straps and ground anchors.
- Refill your prescriptions. Most pharmacies will work with you in the state of an emergency.
- Fill up your car with gas and withdraw a week’s worth of cash since power outages may interrupt these services temporarily.
- Place important and valuable papers such as your log of possessions in waterproof bags.
- If you live in a trailer home and are told to evacuate, do so immediately.
Before a Hurricane:
- Meet with your agent well before a storm threatens to make sure you have adequate insurance coverage.
- Compile a thorough and detailed inventory of the contents of your home and their value. Include high quality digital photos and even video for documentation purposes. Depending on the severity of a storm, you may not be able to enter your home, and looting could become an issue. Whether your loss is from a storm or theft, having a list to support your claim helps avoid disputes and ensures the settlement is fair.
After a Hurricane:
- Make sure you have pet food and supplies for three days.
- Contact a trained expert to turn off damaged utilities and appliances instead of trying to do it yourself.
- Drink only bottled water until tap water is deemed safe.
- Contact your independent insurance agent as quickly as possible to report your losses. He or she will assign the loss immediately to a qualified adjuster who will call you as soon as possible. It takes time to process a large number of claims after a disaster, so please be patient. In the case that you need immediate assistance, check out our Hurricane Hotline page.
- Assess your situation and put safety first. Don’t proceed until you are sure a room or house is safe to enter. If you must relocate temporarily, give your agent your temporary address.
- When inspecting your home for damage, wear sturdy shoes and clothing as protection.
- Once your safety is secured, make any repairs necessary to prevent further property damage. These might include covering breaks in roofs, walls, or windows with plywood, canvas, or other waterproof material. Do not have permanent repairs made without first consulting your agent or meeting with the adjuster; unauthorized repairs may not be reimbursed.
- Keep all receipts for expenditures you’ve made to temporarily repair damage or to estimate the extent of damage.
- Use your pre-disaster home inventory to help prepare a detailed accounting of all damaged or destroyed personal property for the adjuster (be sure to keep a copy). Your list should be as complete as possible and include descriptions (with quantities) of items damaged or destroyed, date of purchase or approximate age, cost at time of purchase and estimated replacement cost.
- Collect cancelled checks, invoices, appraisals, or other papers that might assist the adjuster in determining the value of the destroyed property.
- Secure a detailed estimate for permanent repairs from a reliable contractor and give it to the adjuster when he or she arrives. The estimate should be detailed and specific, and include the extent of the work and a breakdown of repair and replacement costs. Do not give the contractor the go-ahead to begin repairs until you have reviewed the damage with the adjuster.
- Keep a written record of everyone you talk to about your insurance claim, including the date of the conversation and a summary of what was said.
- Take photos or video of the damage to help with the presentation of your claim and assist the adjuster in his or her evaluation.
- Even if home or business furnishings and other items look like “total losses,” do not get rid of them until after they have been examined by an adjuster.
Know What Your Insurance Covers and How Much You Need:
- Homeowners insurance typically covers the cost to repair common hurricane damage, including damage to roofs and walls, cars and your personal belongings.
- If you can’t live in your home, your carrier may help pay for additional living expenses as provided in your policy. Review your policy for detailed coverage explanations.
- Review your insurance policy once a year to make sure you have enough coverage to rebuild based on current construction costs.
- Work with an independent building contractor to get a precise estimate, and talk to your independent insurance agent about your home’s unique features to help determine your cost to rebuild, and update yearly as needed.
For LassiterWare Clients:
Our Claims Department is dedicated and prepared to handle claim reports as a result of Hurricane Irma.
To report a claim: Call our toll free number at (800) 845-8437 and leave a message on Ext. 120 at any time or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the event of a hurricane or severe storm, an influx of calls is always anticipated and speaking with a Claims Team member immediately may not be possible. If you are concerned and feel you need immediate assistance, please find your carrier information on our Hurricane Hotline page.
NOTE: If you elect to report your claim directly to the carrier, please notify your LassiterWare contact as well so that we can make the appropriate follow-up on your claim.