In 2022, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted that 14 to 21 named storms would develop over the Atlantic Ocean during the hurricane season, which runs from June through November. The agency said there could be six to 10 hurricanes including three to six major hurricanes. Colorado State University experts forecast 20 named storms this year with 10 becoming hurricanes, including five major hurricanes. The good news is that we have time to prepare.
Here are some tips to protect your home and belongings:
- Consider buying flood insurance. Flood damage isn’t covered by your home insurance. Don’t wait too long: It typically takes 30 days for flood policies to take effect.
- Write a family disaster plan. Start on the TexasReady.gov website
- Decide where and how far you’ll go if you evacuate.
- Build a “go-kit” with food, medicine, clothes, pet food, and other vital supplies.
- Make a room-by-room home inventory. This could help later if you file a claim with your insurance company.
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- Ask students to search for flood maps at FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center. Is their area prone to hurricanes and floods?
- Ask students to use FEMA’s Historical Flood Risk and Cost data to help evaluate the flood risk in their area.
- Ask students to talk to their home insurance agent about their need for a flood insurance policy from the National Flood Insurance Program. (If their agent does not sell flood insurance, call 1-800-427-4661.)
- Ask students if their families are prepared for the hurricane season? What preparation have they made, if any?
- Is flood insurance worth its cost? Who must purchase flood insurance?
- Why isn’t flood damage covered by a standard home insurance policy?
- Why are flood maps difficult to keep up to date?
- What factors determine the cost of a flood insurance policy?
If your home was damaged by the severe weather, contact your insurance company or agent to file a claim as soon as possible. These tips will help you make the process go smoother:
- Keep a list of everyone you talk to at your insurance company.
Be ready to answer questions about the damage.
- Make a list of damaged property.
Take pictures or videos. Don’t throw anything away until your insurance company tells you to do so.
- Take steps to protect your home from further damage.
Cover broken windows and holes to keep rain out and prevent vandalism or theft.
- Try to be there when the insurance company comes to inspect the damage.
If you can’t stay in your home, leave a note with information on where you can be reached.
- Ask your agent about additional living expenses.
If you’re forced out of your home to make repairs, your insurance policy may pay for some of those expenses.
- Avoid fraud (with the following recommendations):
- Get written estimates.
- Get more than one bid
- Beware of contractors who solicit door to door.
- Check references and phone numbers.
- Don’t pay up front.
- Avoid contractors who offer to waive your deductible or promise a rebate for it.
- Never sign a contract with blank spaces.
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- What actions should you take to protect your property before a severe storm and floods?
- Make a checklist of actions that you should take after the storm? Share the list with other students.
- Under what circumstances is it better not to file a claim?
- If you file a claim and your insurer rejects it, what are your options? Who should you turn to for assistance?
While insurance may be the last thing on your mind during the holidays, the start of a new year is the perfect time to review your insurance coverage and update your home inventory list. When you reflect on the last 12 months, especially with the pandemic, you might realize that some of those changes could greatly affect your home insurance needs. So, try starting a new tradition: update your home inventory list. Here are four good reasons to add an annual insurance review and home inventory update to your list of holiday traditions.
- Your new gifts may not be covered.
Your homeowners insurance will cover most of your big-ticket gifts like a big screen TV, new electronics and expensive jewelry, but only up to your policy limits. That’s why it’s important to maintain a current record of all your belongings. Update your home inventory this holiday season so your coverage limits meet your insurance needs.
- A lot can change in a year.
Think about the new “normal” we’re living in with COVID-19. With many people spending more time in their homes, it is not surprising that home improvement projects have increased in popularity. According to a recent porch.com survey, 76% of homeowners have completed at least one home improvement project since the start of the pandemic. Take photos or a video of your remodeled kitchen or bathroom, gather receipts and add them to your inventory list. When you review coverage at the start of the year, you can ensure your new assets are safeguarded.
- It will make filing an insurance claim easier.
The information you put into the home inventory list can make an insurance claim settlement faster and easier. This is especially crucial for high-value items. Don’t forget to document your attic, basement, closets and other storage areas. Can you imagine trying to compile all this information after a disaster? Without a record of your belongings, remembering everything you own or what you’ve lost can be challenging.
- It’s free and easy.
With today’s technology, it’s never been easier to keep a detailed catalog of your possessions. Keep your home inventory list in a safe place outside your home or cloud-based storage services like Dropbox or Google Drive. Also, your insurance agent will be happy to review your insurance coverage with you at no cost.
Creating a home inventory doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as standing in the middle of each room and taking a 360-degree video. Tackle this project with your children and show them family keepsakes and their history.
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- Ask students if they rent or own home. Do they have renters or homeowner’s insurance? Have they prepared a list of their personal belongings? If not, why?
- If students don’t have a household inventory, encourage them to prepare a list of their belongings.
- Why is it important to annually review your home insurance needs?
- Where should you keep your home inventory list?