Disaster Preparedness and Recovery

Prepare with Your Agent:

  • Keep your insurance coverage current with rising building replacement costs. Make sure you have enough coverage for the furnishings and other items you have purchased since you first bought insurance. Buy Flood and Earthquake insurance, if you are eligible and vulnerable.
  • Review your insurance policy with your Agent periodically. Be sure everything important to you is covered. Keep your policy information in a safe place where it can be retrieved easily after a disaster. Create a quick-reference list containing your agent's telephone number, all your policy numbers, and the insurance company names.
Prepare at Home:
  • Alert police and fire departments to special conditions; provide the name and location of any individual requiring special assistance in an emergency.
  • Prepare an inventory list of personal valuables, household furnishings, and equipment so losses can be authoritatively itemized.
  • Know how to shut off your gas, electricity, and water, and how to board up vulnerable places around the house, such as doors and windows.
  • Plan a family evacuation and relocation strategy.
  • Keep a supply of nonperishable foods and an emergency water supply; have essential drugs and a first-aid kit available in your medicine chest. Keep these supplies fresh.
  • Keep fresh batteries available for transistor radios and flashlights, and an extra supply of fuel for portable grills and stoves.
  • Have the necessary tools available to protect your residence from the elements or to make emergency repairs after a catastrophe.

First Steps:

  • Your Agent is Your Advocate: Get in contact with your agent as quickly as possible and let them know about your losses. Of course, if you need emergency assistance, always call 911 first.
  • If you are relocated temporarily, let your agent know your temporary address.

Prepare for Your Adjuster:

  • Following a major storm or catastrophe, even with many additional adjusters on site and others en route, it will take time to process an extraordinary number of claims. If your home has been destroyed, or the damages make your home unlivable, tell your agent that you need priority help.
  • Prepare a detailed inventory of all damaged or destroyed personal property for the adjuster. Be sure to keep a copy for your own records. Your list should be as complete as you can make it and should include: a description of the item (and number if more than one); date of purchase or approximate age; cost at time of purchase; and estimated replacement cost today. Include as much of this data as is available.
  • Collect canceled checks, invoices or other papers that will assist the adjuster in obtaining the value of the destroyed property.
  • Where necessary, secure a detailed estimate for permanent repairs from a reliable contractor and give it to the adjuster when he or she arrives.
  • Even if home or business furnishings and effects look like "total losses", do not get rid of them until they have been examined by an adjuster.

Making Repairs:

  • Make only those repairs necessary to prevent further damage to your home or business. This must include covering breaks in a roof, wall or windows with plywood, canvas, or other waterproof material. Do not have permanent repairs made without first consulting your agent. Unauthorized repairs may not be reimbursed.
  • Keep all receipts for expenditures you have made to repair damage or to estimate the extent of your damage.
  • Minor repair estimates should be copied and forwarded to your agent. These smaller claims may not require an on sight inspection by an adjuster. The estimate should contain: detailed specifications of the proposed repairs, and detailed repair cost prices and replacement prices. The estimate should also be accompanied by detailed photographs of the damage.
  • If immediate repairs are necessary, take photographs of the damaged areas. These will help you with the presentation of your claim and will assist the adjuster in the investigation of your claim.

Cleaning Tips:

  • Wooden furniture should be cleaned as quickly as possible. Avoid rubbing in abrasives such as ash, plaster, or wallboard particles that have fallen on furniture surfaces.
  • Your dry cleaning establishment can help you evaluate the cleaning or restoration costs for clothing, furs and draperies.
  • Metal objects, including guns, drapery rods and the electric motors in home appliances should be dried and rubbed or sprayed with oil to prevent corrosion. Radios, televisions and other electronic systems should also be dried out, but not oiled.
  • Bedding and upholstered furniture must be dried immediately if saturated with water. Vacuuming will remove some of the odor and grit left by smoke damage, but these items should be separated from other possessions since they may affect nearby items.

First Steps:

  • Notify your agent. Make sure you tell your agent who insures your home or other structure for wind loss. The adjuster working your flood claim will need to know this information.
  • You should complete temporary repairs to avoid further damage. Keep records of expenses incurred in preventing further damage.

Special Precautions:

  • If your car has been damaged or submerged in a flood, move it to high ground and let it dry out.
  • Do not attempt to start or operate it until it is thoroughly dried.
  • Before you enter a flooded building, make sure it is not in danger of collapse.
  • Do not smoke or use an open flame until you are sure it is safe to do so.
  • Do not turn on the electrical system; it may have become short circuited.
  • Let the building air to remove foul odors or escaped gas.
  • When entering a flooded building, be alert for holes in the floor, loose boards, hanging or loose plaster, snakes and other hazards.
  • The main electrical circuit should be turned off. Be extremely careful to stand on a dry surface and avoid touching the metal handle of the switch box. Use a piece of heavy rubber, plastic or a piece of dry wood to open the metal door and throw the switch off.
  • If you have gas service, it should be turned off at your meter, tank, or supply line.
  • Be alert for fumes. Call your local utility if you detect any fumes.

Cleaning Tips:

  • Take all wooden furniture outdoors and remove all drawers and as many moving parts as possible. Clean off all mud and dirt. Do not leave them in the sun as they will warp.
  • Upholstered furniture, especially any which have been submerged or badly damaged should be cleaned, dried and examined by an experienced upholsterer.
  • Clean metal objects as soon as possible. This is especially true of iron, which should be cleaned with a cloth saturated with kerosene.
  • Wall-to-wall carpets should be raised to allow air to circulate. Draperies, upholstery and clothing should be laundered.
  • Pump or bail water out of the house and shovel out the mud while it is moist. Give walls and floors an opportunity to dry.
  • Before the house is fully aired out, scrub all woodwork and floors with a stiff brush. Always start washing a wall from the bottom up. Starting at the top may cause streaking.