It’s only a few years since Hurricane Irma hit Florida and less since Hurricane Michael hit the Panhandle and Georgia. We also had Hurricane Florence do some damage in North Carolina in between. As a licensed Public Adjuster I have put together 5 important things you can do to prepare for any dangerous hurricane that may be heading your way.
- BE SAFE – I think that many Hurricanes are underestimated like it is just a bad storm. IT IS NOT! It can be catastrophic. I was down in the Keys right after Hurricane Irma hit and I saw homes that were completely destroyed with roofs that caved in on the entire home. I saw entire walls that missing from buildings. A hurricane is extremely dangerous. If you are in an evacuation zone GET OUT! Don’t delay. A Cat 4 storm will spin off many tornadoes and will tear about whole towns and the flooding can be anywhere from 4-8 feet high. If you are staying board up and identify a safe room in your house where you can hunker down.
- FIND YOUR INSURANCE DOCUMENTS and take pictures on your phone or scan them and put them in the cloud or take them with you if you are leaving your home. These insurance documents are extremely helpful should you have to file an insurance claim after a storm. As soon as you are aware that you might have had damage to your property call your insurance company and file a claim. In your conversation with the Insurance company do not offer information that is not 100% accurate as this could hurt your claim if you find out later that they were inaccurate assumptions of what happened. Many people think that flooding did damage to their homes when it could be wind and rain. In an insurance policy, this is a major difference as you have separate flood insurance from your windstorm insurance and many items may not be covered in a flood insurance policy. Unless you are a General Contractor you most likely are not an expert, so your opinion of what you think happened should be kept to yourself and not told to the Insurance company. They will often use this recorded statement against you to reduce your claim. No matter what the insurance company says you should never settle any claim over the phone. Make sure that you have an adjuster come to your home to investigate the damage.
- DOCUMENT YOUR CONTENTS – First take pictures of each room from all 4 corners of the room. Make sure to get pictures of the flooring and the walls and the window coverings and all furniture. Also, take pictures of the exterior of the home as well as any fencing. Most people do not think about content. However, everything from bedding to clothes to furniture can also get damaged by a storm. Download this FEMA sheet to document your contents be detailed because trying to remember what you have will be difficult after the storm if the home is wrecked. Then scan or take pictures of files and upload all of these items to Google Drive or Dropbox or iCloud or any other free site to have them available for safekeeping.
- ELEVATE ITEMS THAT ARE IMPORTANT Flooding will destroy anything below 4 feet. Electronics, motorized tools, and anything you value gets off the ground if you are anywhere near a flood zone. Saltwater is not friendly to anything you own.
- Stock up: Gas, Water, and Batteries are essentials. If you have propane tanks and a camping stove this can be very helpful after the storm to cook food. You will almost assuredly be without power for days and maybe weeks to prepare for this fact. And you may have to boil water or not use any running water. Be prepared to live like this or find a place to be that has all of the things available to you.
I know that going through a Hurricane can be a scary time for many who have never experienced a Hurricane before. The more prepared you are the better it will be after the storm passes. If you need any assistance with your insurance claim contact USA Damage Claims or call 954-477-6161.