Homeowners Should Review Coverage, Create a Home Inventory, Protect their Property
INSURANCE INFORMATION INSTITUTE
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NEW YORK, August 19, 2009 — Hurricane Bill, the first Atlantic hurricane of 2009, offers a vivid reminder of the East Coast’s vulnerability to severe weather events, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).
While this storm currently is not expected to make landfall in the United States, Hurricane Bill’s projected path is running parallel to the coastline from the Outer Banks of North Carolina all the way up to New England, while remaining hundreds of miles away from land.
“The relative quiet of the hurricane season to date is no reason for complacency,” said Jeanne Salvatore, senior vice president and consumer spokesperson for the I.I.I. “Those who take the time to prepare for a disaster such as a hurricane stand the best chance of surviving the storm and getting back to their normal lives as quickly as possible.”
Eight of the 10 costliest hurricanes in U.S. history, as defined by insured losses, have occurred since 2004. Hurricane Ike in 2008 ($12.5 billion) ranked third, topped only by Hurricane Katrina ($45.3 billion), which ranked first—1992’s Hurricane Andrew ($23.8 billion) ranked second.
The I.I.I. recommends the following three steps to prepare for a hurricane or other disaster:
- Review your insurance coverage
Speak to your agent or company representative to make sure you have the right type and amount of insurance coverage. You need enough insurance to rebuild your home and to replace all of your personal belongings. If you have made a major alteration or improvement to your home or have made significant purchases, notify your insurance agent so that the increased value is reflected in your policy.
Make sure you understand your deductibles. Most coastal residents have specific percentage deductibles for windstorm damage rather than the traditional dollar deductibles that are used for other types of losses such as fire or burglary.
Ask about flood insurance. Flood damage is not covered under most standard home insurance policies. However, flood coverage is available from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and some private insurance companies. It can generally be purchased from the same agent or broker who provides your homeowners or renters insurance. Additional information on flood insurance can be found by going to the FloodSmart.gov Web site or calling 888-379-9531. Should you need coverage over and above the $250,000 for property and $100,000 for contents provided by the NFIP, excess flood insurance is also available from private insurance companies.
- Create a home inventory
A home inventory will help ensure that you have purchased enough insurance to replace your personal possessions. It can also speed the claims process and substantiate losses for income tax purposes. A detailed home inventory is also helpful should you need to apply for disaster aid.
To make creating a home inventory easier, the I.I.I. provides free Web-based software at KnowYourStuff.org. Know Your Stuff allows you to organize easily and list your possessions, as well as add digital photographs of your valuables and upload scanned receipts. The program provides free, secure storage of your inventory on Amazon Web Services. Storing your inventory online gives you the ability to access it from any computer in the event your own computer is damaged or destroyed.
- Protect your property
Keeping wind and water out is critical to the survival of your home. According to the Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), a house is most vulnerable to high winds when the building’s "envelope" is not sealed by approved forms of opening protection. Installing storm shutters or reinforced garage doors can add an important layer of protection. In addition, homeowners should secure loose roof shingles, seal openings, cracks and holes, and strengthen the more vulnerable parts of their property, such as arches, overhangs and beams. Keep in mind that unsecured building materials, or trash from partially completed homes, could become airborne missiles impacting nearby buildings. For more information on protecting your home, go to the IBHS Web site.
The I.I.I. is a nonprofit, communications organization supported by the insurance industry.