It’s summertime and that means fun in the sun, BBQ’s and beaches. Well that may be true, but summer also coincides with HURRICANE SEASON! Make no mistake, Hurricane season, June 1st – November 1st, does fall over the “summer months” but it doesn’t need to be a named storm to wreak havoc on your home, business or property. Following are some simple steps that you can take to protect your property from becoming a storm statistic.
Trim Trees: Fallen branches and toppled trees are the number one reason neighborhoods lose power and homes are damaged during summer storms. And, did you know that most insurance policies have a “cap” on the amount they will pay to clean up tree debris? Most policies place a $500 - $1,000 cap on tree clean-up even though these costs can easily exceed this amount. To prepare your trees for storm season, it’s a good idea to have an arborist or tree specialist look at your trees to assess the health of your trees and trim up any branches that could present a problem.
Sump Pump Back-Up: Flooding and water intrusion during summer storms is a real concern. The water and debris have to go somewhere and as we know, water always seeks the lowest point. That point is often the basement. Experts agree it is important to have a battery back up on your sump pump. This way, even if your property loses electricity, the battery driven sump pump will still function. In fact, many experts suggest installing a second sump pump that is entirely driven by battery power to double up on your sump pump capacity and protect you if you lose power.
IMPORTANT: Basement flooding and damage may not be covered as part of your home owners policy. It depends where the water originates; seepage and rising water are excluded, but water intrusion from an interior drain is coverage, especially if you have a finished basement. Often their limits need to be increased
Proper Insurance and Flood Insurance: Verify that you have the proper amount of insurance for your property. Have you recently built an addition on your home or purchased an expensive piece of furniture or artwork? Each of these actions should prompt a reevaluation of your property insurance coverage. Do you have replacement cost coverage? If not, you should. If you live in a flood zone, you already know that you are required to carry flood insurance. However, if you are not in a flood zone, but are concerned that flooding could pose an issue, you may want to retain flood coverage. FYI: Flooding is not covered under a typical homeowner’s policy and must be purchased as a separate policy. To learn more about flood insurance and to help evaluate your risk, visit: www.floodsmart.gov
IMPORTANT: Call an independent insurance agent for additional information.
Home Inventory: If disaster strikes it may be difficult to remember everything of value in your home. It may also make finding receipts for large ticket items nearly impossible. This is why it is important to create a visual and documented inventory of all household items. Using your smartphone, take a walking tour of your home pointing out valuable items and if you are able to remember, where you purchased the item and how much you paid for it. In addition, take the time to write out a home inventory and print it out. Then send the video and home inventory list to yourself via email and place the files in an easy to find electronic folder in your email. Or if you prefer, store the video and document in the “cloud”.
Emergency Disaster Kit: Always keep an emergency disaster kit handy. The kit should include a radio that operates on batteries, extra batteries for radio and flashlights, cell phone chargers, food and water for 3-days and medications for 7-days. Don’t forget to set aside food and meds for pets too. In addition, you may want to prepare a “go-kit” that you can grab in an emergency. This kit should include any important paperwork including insurance contact information of represenatives, extra keys and your home inventory. Also, see FEMA’s fact sheet on building a disaster recovery emergency kit.
Back-Up Generator: Consider purchasing a backup generator that runs on gas or propane. Aside from providing creature comforts like electricity, air conditioning and perhaps an alarm system when the electricity is knocked out, having a generator that automatically kicks in when the power is out, can result in a discount on your insurance.
Be sure to make a list of important people to notify in case you do sustain a loss. This list should include, your insurance agent, the name of family members who do not reside in the area, and M. Miller and Son, your licensed public adjusters. Also, don’t forget to write down the phone numbers for each of these contacts. You may not have access to your smartphone or contact directory after a loss.
Implementing some or all of these tips will help you prevent, and if your property is damaged, better manage a summer storm. So take a moment to prepare your property and you family — you’ll be happy you did.