NAVIGATING INSURANCE: What to do before and after the storm

Published 7:21 pm Wednesday, September 12, 2018

As speculation and uncertainty precedes the landfall of Hurricane Florence, there are many unknowns for those in the path of the storm. For the unknown and unforeseen circumstances in life, insurance for one’s home and automobile can provide some reassurances in the face of a potential disaster.

Speaking with Paige Harris, principal at Flatlands Insurance Group, as homeowners prepare for the storm, there are steps they can take to help make the insurance process easy after the fact.

Harris recommends, first of all, that homeowners take plenty of pictures before the storm hits. Home interiors, exteriors and possessions should all be photographed for documentation and claims purposes.

“Those are so helpful, because you aren’t going to be able to provide a list of items in every drawer,” Harris said. “So we suggest pulling the drawers out and taking pictures so it is easier for you and your insurance carrier to know what needs to be replaced.”

Having a copy of your insurance policy handy, along with other important documents, is an important part of any emergency preparation kit. Generally speaking, Harris says that the majority of carriers prefer that customers call claims centers rather than contacting local agents directly.

After the storm, safety is the No.1 concern. Harris recommends making the claim, then following up with your local agent to follow up with the claim process. Contacting local services to begin the cleanup process should begin as quickly as possible and can prevent further damage.

“Once you’re sure you’re safe, then make your claims,” Harris said. “Sometimes it takes a while for those claims to get paid, but they will get paid. It’s also important for the consumer to know what is covered.”

In addition to the advice provided by Harris, Allstate released an advisory earlier this week with helpful tips for those preparing to face Hurricane Florence:

  • Collect all your important papers and documents. This includes bank and financial information, as well as your bills and checkbooks.
  • Some coastal homeowners may have their insurance for wind and flood with a different insurance company than their primary homeowners’ insurance policy. Make sure to gather information about your homeowner, flood, wind and auto insurance carriers and policy numbers.
  • When preparing for Hurricane Florence, think carefully about what items are easily replaceable by insurance and what items are not, like family heirlooms, keepsakes and pictures.
  • If you enough time and don’t have an up-to-date home inventory, walk through your home with a video or still camera to record your possessions. A home inventory can help facilitate the claim process. At the same time, make a list of what items you want to take during an evacuation.
  • Gather important documents such as insurance policies, birth certificates and identification. Make sure to place them in a waterproof container.
  • Review your homeowners insurance policy to determine whether it provides for additional living expenses when you are prohibited from using your home because of civil authority orders. Contact your agent with any questions.
  • Review your auto policy to determine whether you have coverage for flying objects or rising water. Contact your agent with any questions.