Hurricane Season Get Ready in 5 Easy Steps

Hurricane Season Get Ready in 5 Easy Steps It s true, major hurricanes don t hit the U.S. every year. But if you live on or near the coast, someday you may have to face a Category 3, or worse. The only
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Hurricane Season Get Ready in 5 Easy Steps It s true, major hurricanes don t hit the U.S. every year. But if you live on or near the coast, someday you may have to face a Category 3, or worse. The only way to protect the things that matter most during a hurricane is to be ready every year. Encompass wants to help make protection easy for you and has developed 5 easy steps to help you prepare for severe weather both before and after a loss occurs. And if a storm is already approaching your area, we ve also included a few last-minute tips. Table of Contents STEP ONE Check your insurance coverage STEP TWO Do a home inventory STEP THREE Protect your property STEP FOUR Stock your emergency supply kit STEP FIVE Plan your evacuation HOURS BEFORE THE STORM 5 Easy Steps STEP ONE Check your insurance coverage The first step in disaster prevention is reviewing your insurance policy. Here are some questions to consider with your independent insurance agent: IS YOUR COVERAGE UP TO DATE? You should make sure your insurance coverage reflects the current state of your home. So if you ve done anything that increases the value of your home or its contents, like building an addition or remodeling, you should immediately talk with your insurance agent so that you can decide if your current insurance is sufficient or if any protections should be updated. DO YOU HAVE COVERAGE FOR ADDITIONAL LIVING EXPENSES? This coverage is intended to help pay for the increased cost of living away from home if your house is uninhabitable due to a covered loss. This may include payments for the additional costs of food and a place to stay. Additional living expenses may or may not already be included in your homeowners policy. Talk to your insurance agent about what coverages are available to you. DO YOU HAVE COVERAGE FOR FLOODS? Most homeowners policies do not usually cover flood damage. And here s something to think about: One-third of all flood insurance claims last year came from areas not considered high risk. So, even if you don t live in a flood zone, you may want to consider purchasing flood coverage. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is the primary source for flood insurance in the United States. You can go to their website at or contact your independent insurance agent for more information. NOTE: There is often a 30-day waiting period after you buy a flood insurance policy before flood coverage takes effect. DO YOU HAVE COMPREHENSIVE AUTO COVERAGE? If your auto is damaged by anything other than a collision, like a falling tree during a hurricane, collision coverage won t protect you. You ll also need comprehensive coverage on your auto policy. And if you have to leave your auto at the shop, you ll also want to consider rental auto coverage. 1 STEP TWO Do a home inventory Doing a home inventory is one of the best ways to have an up-to-date record of what you own, which can make filing a claim easier and help ensure you don t forget anything. METHODS Video camera/smartphone Camera. This is the easiest method to account for your belongings because you can narrate the details of each item you own while videotaping from room to room. Notepad and camera. Simply write down the details of each item on a notepad as you take pictures to document your possessions. TIPS Don t forget the contents of closets, drawers and cabinets. The value of little things can add up quickly. Store your home inventory lists, photographs and videotapes in a safe place off the premises. It s a good idea to have backups as well. Update your home inventory after making any significant purchases. Keep all receipts, especially for big items such as jewelry, furs and collectibles. Valuable items may need separate insurance coverage. Keep track of model numbers and stores where you purchase items. 2 STEP THREE Protect your property Here are some tips you should consider to protect your property from hurricane damage. Ensure you have hurricane shutters or ¾-inch outdoor plywood boards for each window of your home. Install anchors and pre-drill holes for the plywood, so you can put it up quickly in the event of a storm. Install head and foot bolts on doors for extra protection. Install hurricane straps or clips to help hold your roof to the walls of your home. Make sure your landscaping does not become a wind hazard by removing any diseased and damaged limbs from trees. Consider building a safe room in your home that can withstand high winds and flying debris. For more information visit 3 STEP FOUR Stock your emergency supply kit Consider buying a few extra items in case of emergency during hurricane season so you won't have to do it all at once. Here are some other tips to keep in mind: If you are staying at home during the storm, you should have a 2-week supply of water and ready-to-eat nonperishable food for every family member and pet. If you are evacuating, you should have a 3-day supply of water and ready-to-eat nonperishable food for every family member and pet. Manual can opener for canned foods. Essential medicines, including eyeglasses and contact lenses. Personal hygiene items such as toilet paper, toothbrush and toothpaste. Paper towels, premoistened towelettes, hand sanitizer and eating utensils. Change of clothing, including extra shoes and rain gear. First-aid kit and manual. Battery-powered flashlight and radio with extra batteries. You should also consider a weather radio. Blankets, pillows and sleeping bags (one for each family member). Mosquito repellent and citronella candles. Two coolers one for food, the other for ice. Quiet games, books, and playing cards. Plastic tarp for roof/window repair and tools (hammer/nails). Plastic trash bags. Special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members. 4 STEP FIVE Plan your evacuation During hurricane season, the order to evacuate can come at any time and having a plan helps simplify the chaos. Learn the best evacuation routes and keep a map in your car in case you re forced to take unfamiliar roads. Arrange for a ride well before the storm if you don t have your own transportation. Prepare an emergency supply kit for your car with extra keys, food, water, jumper cables, a first-aid kit and sleeping bags. See step four for a comprehensive list. Make a plan now for what to do with your pets since many shelters and hotels will not allow them. Identify an out-of-state contact, so if your family members get separated, you ll know who to call. If time allows, call or your out-of-state contact to let them know where you re going and when you expect to get there. Plan a meeting location at least 50 miles inland in case your family gets separated. Gather important papers to take with you: - Driver s license or personal identification - Social Security card - Proof of residence (deed, lease or utility bills) - Insurance policies (including home, auto, flood and wind) - Birth and marriage certificates - Stocks, bonds and other negotiable certificates - Wills, deeds and copies of recent tax returns - Personal checkbook and any unpaid bills 5 Your protection checklist 48 hours before the storm If you find yourself within hours or days of a hurricane striking your area, and you haven t done anything to get ready, don t panic. There are several things you can do in the last few hours to be better prepared. Encompass Claim Number: Write this number down or put it in your cell phone. If you are an Encompass policyholder, you ll need it after the storm to file a claim. Secure buildings on your property by closing and boarding up windows. Remove outside antennas if it is safe to do so. Bring all lawn furniture, outdoor decorations, trash cans, hanging plants and anything else that could be picked up by the wind inside. Anchor objects that cannot be brought inside. Turn your refrigerator to its coldest setting. Fill up your bathtub, sinks and other large containers with fresh water. This will serve as an important reserve should you be without running water after a storm. If you must leave your car outdoors, park as close to a building as possible. Move your car away from trees or poles that may topple onto it. Make sure you fill your car s gas tank. If you are forced to evacuate, you won t want to be stuck in a long line at the gas station or hunting for gas if all the stations run out. 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