On Your Side: Prepare now, long before the storm

On Your Side: Prepare now, long before the storm

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - We're on your side to make sure you're ready if a major storm hits here.

Hurricane Katrina was the most costly hurricane in recent U.S. history, causing roughly $47.4 billion in damages, according to State Farm Insurance. Preparation makes all the difference when it comes to your safety and security.

Creating a checklist will help protect you, your family, your property, and make sure you have the proper coverage. The checklist is mostly common sense: look around your home, says State Farm insurance agent Michael Fisher. Remove what could become a wind-propelled weapon.

"Start securing patio furniture," Fisher says. "If you have a trash can and they're calling for high winds, it's time to bring that into a garage. Put vehicles in the garage, but face them out so if there's debris in the yard... most garage doors have a safety catch in them to prevent them from opening. If we're having high winds, we certainly want to engage that safety feature to add a little bit of security. [If] you have a generator, now is the time to make sure you have gas in it. Start it. Make sure it's operational."

Before a storm, make sure you have enough insurance, the right type of policy to replace your personal possessions and rebuild your house. Also, create a detailed home inventory. It can speed the claims process, substantiate your losses for tax purposes, and an inventory is helpful, should you need to apply for federal disaster aid.

Fisher adds, "It helps you get what is owed. We just need something there to support those claims. Take photographs from opposite corners of a room, then store those photographs in a fire-safe box. when you take it from an opposite corner of the room, it shows you everything that's in the room. That's one of the things you'll want to review with your insurance carrier. Make sure you have replacement cost coverage. Make sure your deductibles are in line with what you can afford in the event of a storm."

Have an evacuation plan.  After a storm, you may only have a few minutes to gather up important items.

Fisher outlines what you need: "Having an inventory that includes the things to take on an evacuation plan, your medicine, your visa, any financial information that you need.  That's all part of planning for the story. Planning for your property is great, but you need to do it personally as well."

After a storm, do what you can to prevent additional damage. For instance, paying a company to put a tarp over the hole in your roof.  Keep the receipt for reimbursement. The most common claims, Fisher says, are fallen trees on houses, and food spoilage when power goes out for an extended period.

Review your policy now to make sure you have insurance to cover those losses.

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