Home Living Home & Garden Disaster preparedness: Hope for the best, prepare for the worst

Disaster preparedness: Hope for the best, prepare for the worst

As the seasons are changing, most homeowners are busy preparing their properties for fall and winter. While the typical chores involve cleaning up landscaping and packing up the outdoor patio furniture, it’s also a good time to prepare for any natural disasters like hurricanes, fires, flooding, or even tornados or earthquakes that might come this way.

In the not-so-distant past, Super Storm Sandy took a huge toll on our area, leaving some local residents without power for a week or more. Many were evacuated and suffered tremendous damage to their homes and vehicles. For some, though it is two years later, the recovery process is ongoing.

So what can homeowners do to protect themselves? According to a new infographic from HouseLogic, the changing seasons present a good opportunity to create emergency preparedness kits and evacuation plans, inspect smoke detectors, and be sure garage doors are reinforced, to ensure homes are stable and safe. Additionally, review your insurance policy and update it, if necessary. In case your home does incur damage during a disaster, learn how your insurance claims process works, so you can to get your life and home back to normal, as quickly as possible.

Lupton and Luce Insurance agency publishes a hurricane emergency guide that offers tips and checklists, including what your survival kit should have, how to prepare for possible evacuation and what precautions to take for your pets. Did you know that public shelters do not allow pets? Lupton and Luce’s guide suggests, “If you cannot keep your pet with you, make arrangements for your pet to stay in a safe area.”

Though hurricanes are often thought to be the worst disasters, houselogic.com’s info-graphic says that flooding is the costliest danger to homeowners.

“Flooding has wreaked havoc in all 50 states over the last five years. Just six inches of floodwater in a 2,000-square-foot home can rack up nearly $40,000 in flood damage,” the info-graphic says.

However, regular homeowner’s insurance coverage does not include flooding. Flood insurance requires a separate policy. The National Flood Insurance Program suggests asking the following questions when considering your home’s flood protection needs:

  • What flood zone do I live in? What is my property’s flood risk?
  • Is flood insurance mandatory for my property? Will the lender require it?
  • Even if flood insurance isn’t required by my lender, do I still need it?
  • Do I qualify for a Preferred Risk Policy?
  • Does my community participate in the NFIP Community Rating System (CRS)? If so, does my home qualify for a CRS rating discount?
  • What will and won’t be covered against flood damage?
  • Will my flood insurance policy be backed by the federal government?
  • How much coverage should I get for my building and for my contents?
  • What options do I have to reduce my premium?
  • Are there additional expenses or agency fees I should be aware of?
  • Will my policy provide Replacement Cost Value or Actual Cash Value? And what is the difference between the two?
  • Who should I call if I have a flood claim?
  • How can I pay for my policy?
  • How will my policy be renewed?

“I would recommend that people review their insurance and to periodically update it,” said Allstate Insurance Agency Principle, Beth Hanlon, “Things change so you need to be proactive and make sure you have the right coverage.”

Did you renovate your house? Have you added an addition? Did you buy new jewelry or rent musical instruments for your kids? Hanlon said these are all important considerations when reviewing your coverage.

“And definitely contact your agency before you put in a claim,” Hanlon said. “They are the experts and will help you determine whether it is indeed a covered peril. If you call an insurance company directly or use an 800 type company, they have no other option than to submit the claim. Now you have a claim on your record that may be below your deductible or is not even covered.”

There is a lot to consider when preparing for a natural disaster. Taking precautions, planning ahead and keeping your insurance up to date are the first steps to protecting your home and family. For more resources and information, see the following links.

Laurie Nigro
Laurie is the mother of two biological children and one husband and the caretaker of a menagerie of animals. Laurie is passionate about frugal, natural living. She was recognized by the L.I. Press Club with a “best humor column” award in 2016. Email Laurie