Prepare for Extreme Weather – Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late

First of all, our hearts and prayers go out to all those families and businesses that were damaged over the last couple of days due to weather.

After the storm hits is not the time to discover you don’t have the proper coverage. Renters, are you aware that if your apartment/home/mobile home or condo is destroyed by weather that your landlord is not responsible for your possesions and may not even have to help you with a place to stay. This is why it is important to have a Renter’s Insurance Policy. Do you have enough coverage as a homeowner to cover your home and possesions during a loss? Do you have enough roof coverage? After the storm happens is too late to correct these things. Call your agent or us at (317) 886-0081 for a home/renters insurance review.

“Far too often residents of Indiana are not aware if they have adequate coverage from their insurance policies, especially when it comes to damage as a result of storms that produce heavy rains and cause flooding. The Department urges Hoosiers to review their insurance policies, including rental insurance to make sure they understand their coverage before a disaster hits,” said Indiana Department of Insurance Commissioner Stephen W. Robertson.

The Indiana Department of Insurance offers tips on disaster preparedness, including what to do before and after a storm hits, and how to protect yourself from fraud, on a 5/28/2019 Consumer Alert.

Understanding Extreme Weather Hazards

Check the weather online or a broadcast outlet every morning to better understand what the day may bring. Unpredictable weather means storms can come on quickly, taking you by surprise. Consider the following:

  • Tornadoes can hit anywhere, anytime. Of the 50 states, 49 have experienced a tornado since 2005. Make sure to identify a shelter and practice an annual family tornado drill.
  • Lightning is common, even if getting struck is rare. Stay inside during a lightning storm and take precautions such as unplugging your appliances and avoid talking on a phone.
  • Flash floods are the cause of the most deaths associated with severe weather. Just one inch of water can cause $20,000 in damage to your home. If you live in a 100-year floodplain, there’s more than a 25 percent chance that you’ll be flooded during a 30-year mortgage. In that period, you are 27 times more likely to experience a flood than have a fire. It takes just 12 inches of rushing water to carry away a car. Don’t ever drive or walk into flood waters and never underestimate the power of flowing water.

Create a Home Inventory

To make the claims process easier, create a home inventory of your belongings. Include identifying information about your possessions (brand name, price, purchase date, model, serial number and receipts) and take photos. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has created a free smartphone app that will help you create a database of your possessions. The app is available for iPhone and Android. A simple-to-use printable home inventory checklist is also available.

If you don’t have time to create a full list of the items in your home, consider videotaping and/or taking photographs in every room. The more detail you include, the easier it will be for your insurer to evaluate your loss. When making your list, open drawers and closets, and don’t forget to document what’s in your basement, garage and storage buildings.

Once you’ve created your inventory, send the information to your insurance agent and/or keep it on your app.

Collect Your Insurance Information

Before a storm hits, review your insurance policies. Make sure you know what is and is not covered. If you have questions, contact your insurance agent or insurer.

Store electronic copies of your insurance policies with your home inventory and keep paper files in a safety deposit box. Make sure to have a copy of your policy declarations page listing all of your coverages, as well as your insurance cards.

Collect the 24-hour contact information for your insurance agent and insurer and enter it as a contact on your smartphone. Make a list that includes your policy numbers, insurer and insurance agent’s phone numbers, website addresses and mailing addresses. Also, check to see if the company or agent has an emergency information hotline. It is a good idea to store this information — and your home inventory — in a waterproof, fireproof box or safe. If you evacuate your home, take this information with you.

Note: Flood damage is generally not covered by a standard homeowners or renter’s insurance policy. If you have a separate flood insurance policy, remember to include a copy of the policy and the contact details for the insurer on your list. Flood is a covered event in most auto insurance policies. If you need flood insurance, you’ll want to purchase it now because typically there is a 30-day waiting period from the date of purchase before the policy goes into effect. For more information about flood insurance, check out this consumer alert issued by the Indiana Department of Insurance.

Prepare for the Worst

To help lessen the damage caused by a storm, take stock of your home. Clear your yard of debris that could become projectiles in high winds and trim dead or overhanging branches from trees surrounding your home. Ensure the roof sheathing is properly secured. Fasten end gables to the roof. Latch doors and garage doors properly. Secure shutters and outdoor furniture.

For personal safety, identify the nearest storm shelter and have an emergency or evacuation plan for your family. Practice your evacuation plan, making sure everyone knows where emergency supplies are stored. Have a storm survival kit that includes bottled water, a first-aid kit, flashlights, a battery-operated radio, at least three days of nonperishable food items, blankets, clothing, prescription drugs, eyeglasses and personal hygiene supplies.

If you must evacuate your home, turn off all utilities and disconnect appliances, reducing the chance of additional damage and electrical shock when utilities are restored.

For more information about how to prepare your family and home for weather threats, visit the American Red Cross.

After the Storm

The days following a natural disaster can be confusing and stressful, but report your insurance claim(s) as quickly as possible to help protect your financial future.

Contact your insurer and/or agent with your policy number and other relevant information. Be aware that your policy might require that you make this notification within a certain time frame.

Document damage by taking photographs/video before you begin any clean-up. After you’ve documented the damage, make repairs necessary to prevent further harm to your property (cover broken windows, leaking roofs and damaged walls). Don’t make permanent repairs until your insurer has inspected the property and you have reached an agreement on the cost. Be prepared to provide the claims adjuster with records of any improvements you made prior to the damage. Save all receipts, including those from temporary fixes.

If your home is damaged to the extent that you cannot live there, ask your insurer or insurance agent if you have coverage for additional living expenses.

Work with your insurer to learn what documents, forms and data you need for your claim. Keep a diary of all conversations you have with the insurer and your insurance agent, including names, times and dates of the calls or visits, and contact details. Provide your insurer with all of the requested information, as incorrect or incomplete information may delay your claim.

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April is Tornado Awareness Month

April is Tornado Awareness Month. Do you know where to seek shelter during a tornado? Learn what to do before, during & after one hits.

Image by Jonny Lindner from Pixabay
Image by Jonny Lindner from Pixabay

Tornadoes

Tornadoes can destroy your home, your business, buildings, flip cars, and create deadly flying debris. Tornadoes are violently rotating columns of air that extend from a thunderstorm to the ground. Tornadoes can:

  • Happen anytime and anywhere;
  • Bring intense winds, over 200 MPH; and
  • Look like funnels.

 IF YOU ARE UNDER A TORNADO WARNING, FIND SAFE SHELTER RIGHT AWAY

  • If you can safely get to a sturdy building, then do so immediately.
  • Go to a safe room, basement, or storm cellar.
  • If you are in a building with no basement, then get to a small interior room on the lowest level.
  • Stay away from windows, doors, and outside walls.
  • Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You’re safer in a low, flat location.
  • Watch out for flying debris that can cause injury or death.
  • Use your arms to protect your head and neck.

HOW TO STAY SAFE WHEN A TORNADO THREATENS

Prepare NOW

  • Know your area’s tornado risk. In the U.S., the Midwest and the Southeast have a greater risk for tornadoes.
  • Know the signs of a tornado, including a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud; an approaching cloud of debris; or a loud roar—similar to a freight train.
  • Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts. If your community has sirens, then become familiar with the warning tone.
  • Pay attention to weather reports. Meteorologists can predict when conditions might be right for a tornado.
  • Identify and practice going to a safe shelter in the event of high winds, such as a safe room built using FEMA criteria or a storm shelter built to ICC 500 standards. The next best protection is a small, interior, windowless room on the lowest level of a sturdy building.
  • Consider constructing your own safe room that meets FEMA or ICC 500 standards.

 Survive DURING

  • Immediately go to a safe location that you identified.
  • Take additional cover by shielding your head and neck with your arms and putting materials such as furniture and blankets around you.
  • Listen to EAS, NOAA Weather Radio, or local alerting systems for current emergency information and instructions.
  • Do not try to outrun a tornado in a vehicle.
  • If you are in a car or outdoors and cannot get to a building, cover your head and neck with your arms and cover your body with a coat or blanket, if possible.

Be Safe AFTER

  • Keep listening to EAS, NOAA Weather Radio, and local authorities for updated information.
  • If you are trapped, cover your mouth with a cloth or mask to avoid breathing dust. Try to send a text, bang on a pipe or wall, or use a whistle instead of shouting.
  • Stay clear of fallen power lines or broken utility lines.
  • Do not enter damaged buildings until you are told that they are safe.
  • Save your phone calls for emergencies. Phone systems are often down or busy after a disaster. Use text messaging or social media to communicate with family and friends.
  • Be careful during clean-up. Wear thick-soled shoes, long pants, and work gloves.

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