It’s that time of year. Residents in coastal areas are aware it’s hurricane season. While some of those residents diligently begin preparing for these possible storms early, others procrastinate. That delay in planning could have a devastating impact when it comes to safeguarding your assets.
In hurricane preparation, early planning is everything. From storing away supplies of drinking water and batteries to getting all your essential documents in order, hurricane prepping costs residents a significant investment of both money and time.
Today, we are focusing on the preparatory steps you should take now to safeguard your assets if a hurricane comes your way this season.
Start with Your Insurance Agent
Begin getting storm ready with a call to your Trusted Choice Insurance Agent. Ask the agent to review your policies to assess whether you have all the coverage in place that you need for your area and advise you on deductibles and exclusions.
Protection varies from one state to another. Those in hurricane-prone regions like the Southeastern US often have specific provisions for wind damage. Your local agent will offer you the best advice on how to handle this.
Knowing what you are working with early on can give you peace of mind and allow you to purchase additional coverage now.
Do not wait until the last minute. Once a storm is named, state laws often prohibit insurers from issuing new policies or reinstating lapsed coverage.
Inspect and Repair Your Home
Before a hurricane is a blip on the radar, scrutinize your home and make any needed repairs. A house in peak condition is much more likely to withstand the brute force of hurricane winds than one that’s falling into a state of disrepair.
Here are some critical indicators that you should look for:
- Check the roof for loose, cracked, and/or missing shingles or flashing.
- Inspect inside your attic for water marks, mildew, or other signs of a slow roof leak.
- Clean your gutters, so that rain can flow freely instead of causing flooding around your foundation.
Keep receipts for any repairs you make. This paperwork provides your insurance company with evidence that your home was in good order before the storm’s arrival. Unfortunately, claims resulting from neglect or improper installation might be denied.
Inventory and Document Your Belongings
Another crucial step you must take to protect your assets during a hurricane is to take an inventory of your belongings and document the most valuable items by taking photos or videos. This process proves to your insurance company that you did, indeed, own these assets.
Take as many photos as necessary, including:
- Jewelry—include photos of any receipts or paperwork
- Antiques and artwork – take pictures of hallmarks, signatures, serial numbers
- Furnishings – document the brand name from the tag
- Fine china and silver – capture the brand and pattern name as well as a good photo of the design itself
- Power tools – take pictures of the brand, model number, and serial number if applicable
- Vehicles/Boats/ATVs—be sure to grab the serial numbers, too!
- Firearm collections—include manufacturer, model, and serial numbers
- Your closet contents and dresser drawers—this gives the appraiser an overall sense of how much clothing you have.
- Kitchen appliances—capture brand name and models plus serial numbers, if any.
- Electronics/Computers/Televisions—take images of all manufacturer information
It’s an excellent idea to keep a hard copy of your inventory sheet plus your photos for easy reference. However, it’s better yet to store your documentation on a secure, cloud-based application. Cloud-based retrieval allows you to access your inventory sheet in the case of a total loss or if your property is unsafe to enter for an extended time.
Gather and Secure Vital Documents
At all times, and not just during hurricane season, it’s essential that you keep your essential documents housed in a secure location. Many people purchase a fireproof document box but fail to spend the time necessary to locate all the vital paperwork and lock it up for safekeeping.
Having all paperwork stored securely in one place allows you to grab and go if you receive an evacuation order. This preparedness will enable you to lay your hands on any documentation you need once you’ve left the premises.
Some of the critical paperwork to gather in advance includes:
- Birth certificates
- Social security cards
- Insurance policy documents (include all: homeowners, auto insurance, boat policy, etc.)
- Medical and dental insurance cards
- Immunization and medical records
- Pet shot records
- Marriage certificates
After a storm, it can be nearly impossible to assemble all this paperwork, especially if your home is in the middle of ground zero. Carrying it with you upon evacuation is a key to a quick financial recovery.
The Bottom Line on Hurricane Preparation and Your Assets
The season is here. If you haven’t begun making hurricane preparations yet, now is the time. Without taking steps to secure your finances in advance, you will inhibit the odds of a quick financial recovery.
Remember to reach out to your local insurance agent for a policy check-up before a storm is named and for the best local advice on safeguarding your assets before a hurricane strikes.