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Even though hurricane season doesn’t officially begin until June 1, the time to plan is now. Indeed, every South Tampa resident has a story about severe weather that seemed to come out of nowhere. With storms in particular, Ben Franklin’s words ring true: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Here are five quick tips to make sure you’re prepared.
Refresh your emergency supply kits.
Make sure your emergency supply kit hasn’t gotten shoved to the back of the storage closet — you should have kits in convenient, easy-to-reach locations at home, work and even in your car. If you’re not sure what to include, take a look at ready.gov’s thorough suggestions. You’ll need items on their list like:
- Water and food for at least three days.
- Battery-powered radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert. (Don’t forget spare batteries! Spring is the best time to buy.)
- Flashlights, first aid kit, tools, manual can opener, local maps.
- Pet food.
- Essential personal items such as glasses/contact lenses and prescription medicine.
- Copies of important documents, including an inventory of your personal belongings.
Check the expiration dates on all your items, and make sure nothing has corroded or been damaged in storage.
Develop an evacuation plan with your family and friends.
Know your evacuation zone and know where to go once an evacuation order is in place. Don’t know your zone? Visit the Hillsborough County website to find out. Discuss your plans with family and friends. Don’t wait until the stressful time as a storm approaches to talk about everything from evacuation routes and timelines to home utilities and what to pack in an emergency.
Make sure you have proper insurance coverage.
Knowing you have enough insurance coverage for all your assets can bring tremendous peace of mind, especially in an evacuation situation. Reach out to your insurance agent and do a full coverage review at least once a year — spring is the perfect time.
Be sure to tell your agent if you’ve made any recent home improvements or upgrades like new kitchens or bathrooms that might not be reflected in your building limits or assets coverage. Your agent should also give you a thorough explanation of what’s covered and what’s not under your current plan.
After Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Michael, many policyholders discovered that their home insurance policies did not cover flood or rising water, and they were left responsible for the damage. Double-checking your coverage will make sure this won’t happen to you.
Prepare your home.
Even a Category 1 hurricane has winds of up to 74 miles per hour and can cause substantial damage to your home, so make sure your largest asset is as protected as it can be.
Simple steps make a big difference, such as keeping trees trimmed to prevent damage from debris, securing gutters and removing clogs, and inspecting your roof prior to storm season to make sure you don’t need any small patches. Ready.gov has a comprehensive list of home prep you can review.
In the event of a claim, your adjuster will ask you for an inventory of lost, damaged, or stolen items. This list is important, because it is ultimately what the insurance company takes into consideration when the “contents coverage” portion of your policy pays a claim.
Most of us have more “stuff” than we realize, and in a high stress time it’s easy to forget the details of everything we own. Take photos, write down serial numbers and keep the comprehensive list somewhere safe, so that all your information is easily accessible to facilitate your claim.
The Insurance Information Institute has a handy guide as well. Prefer everything stored on the cloud? There are dozens of apps to make this process simple; just search your device’s app store.
Indeed, Benjamin Franklin was right: An ounce of prevention is absolutely worth a pound of cure, especially when the prevention only takes a few minutes and the “cure” could be costly and stressful. If you have any questions call your agent or visit the TypTap Insurance website for a flood insurance quote.