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National Preparedness Month: Check Your Insurance Coverage

‚ÄčNational Preparedness Month: Check Your Insurance Coverage

By AIA Staff
September 25, 2018 

September is National Preparedness Month.  Each year, the Department of Homeland Security encourages Americans and their families to think through how they can best prepare for events like hurricanes, wildfires, and flooding, among other things.

Reviewing your insurance coverage is an important component of being prepared. Now is a good time to think about whether your insurance is enough to help you and your family recover if your community is hit by a natural disaster.

The Basics

With the right coverage, insurance is the quickest way to get you back on your feet after a natural disaster.

Before an event occurs, read through your policy and discuss it with your agent or insurance company to make sure you understand what coverage you have. You’ll want to know if your policy includes a deductible or excludes certain types of events, like flooding. You’ll also want to know if your policy coverage will fully replace your home and belongings if they are completely destroyed, or if you have cash-value coverage, which will take depreciation and the price you paid for each item into account.

The right coverage amounts for you will depend on your specific situation, but it’s important to know where you stand before a a natural disaster, not after.

It’s also smart to go through your home and make a detailed inventory of your belongings on a regular basis. If an event occurs, this inventory should help expedite the claims process.

Finally, take pictures of important financial documents and store them in a safe place or take them with you during an evacuation, so they’re easily accessible after a disaster.

Do You Need Flood Insurance?

The most common natural disaster in the country is flooding. A typical homeowners/renters policy does not cover flood damage, so you’ll need to purchase a separate policy for this. Even if you don’t live on the coast or in an area that has ever been hit by a hurricane, you may still have flood risk. A heavy rain storm, spilling dam, breached levee, or even an aggressive snow storm can all cause or lead to flooding.

Most Americans purchase flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program, but some private insurers are entering the marketplace as well. Talk to your insurer or insurance agent and shop around to find a policy that fits your unique needs.  

After a Natural Disaster Strikes

Once local officials have said it’s safe to return to your home, try to contact your insurance company or agent as soon as possible. It’s okay if you don’t have all the information yet - your insurer will be able to help guide you as you file your claim. Remember, the sooner you start the claims process, the sooner you can receive a payment from your insurer.

Start with a detailed inventory of your damaged or destroyed belongings. Remember to save receipts for any expenses you incurred while you were away from your home, or for any temporary repairs. These may be covered under your policy as well.

Ask as many questions of your insurer as you need to, and make sure you stay in regular contact with them throughout the claims process.

Finally, use this opportunity to revisit your level of insurance coverage, and make sure your policy is still enough to cover the costs of rebuilding in the future. Now may also be a good time to research ways to build stronger for the future.

For more on disaster recovery, insurance coverage, and non-insurance ways to prepare, check out AIA’s Catastrophe Central,Ready.gov, or follow us on Twitter @AIADC.