We all watch the news and know that anything can happen at any time that will change our lives. Sometimes it's an unexpected incident during a predicted or planned event and other times it is all sudden and unexpected like a natural disaster. However, I think we still think, "It won't happen to me." With recent sudden flooding in Colorado, fires in Yosemite, and the peak of hurricane season arriving, we need to change that mindset and be prepared for anything. Preparedness will protect your home, bank account, and most importantly your loved ones.
I looked to the experts and gathered these 10 vital tips for four natural disasters that can happen to any home anywhere that will save you money and your home in the long run.
Flooding is devastating to homes and families as we have sadly seen take place recently in Colorado. As in Colorado its not just homes that sit by a body of water that are at risk, so it's important to educate yourself:
1. I connected with Mark Desrochers, a home insurance expert and president, personal lines at The Hanover Insurance Group, and he said the first step is to assess the risk of flooding in your area by visiting www.floodsmart.gov. If there is a risk its best to purchase flood insurance as damage from flooding is not covered under a standard homeowner's insurance policy.
2. If your home is hit by flooding, whether it's just a leak in the basement or a major flood, Mark suggests creating a list of damaged property and if possible take photographs and/or video. Do not dispose of damaged items without prior approval from your insurance claims adjuster. This step will get you the money you deserve.
We are now in the peak of hurricane season, but the good news its not too late to be prepared. With the right preparation you can significantly reduce the risk of property damage in a storm, saving money and headaches.
3. "The first step to protecting your wallet from costly hurricane damage is to review your homeowners policy with your insurance agent to determine whether you have adequate protection," said Mark. "In particular consider whether you have flood insurance and if your policy will cover current rebuilding costs." Flood insurance is not just for overflowing rivers, it is a major cause of damage by hurricanes as we witnessed with Hurricane Sandy.
4. Mark also notes that the second critical step is to make a home inventory so that you can easily offer a list of damaged possessions to your insurer in the event that you are impacted by the storm. Be as detailed as possible, listing all personal items and including photos and videos where possible. Keep your inventory list in a fireproof safe or a safe deposit box. The Hanover offers a free online home inventory tool available at www.hanover.com.
The peak of wild fire season is now, September - October, but of course fires can happen at anytime. With a few steps, you can prevent a fire from taking your entire home.
5. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) states that the roof is the most vulnerable part of your home. Homes with wood or shingle roofs are at high risk of being destroyed during a wildfire. CAL FIRE recommends building your roof or re-roof with materials such as composition, metal or tile. Block any spaces between roof decking and covering to prevent embers from catching. This step can literally save your home.
6. A simple thing as landscaping can make all the difference. The good news is you don't need a lot of money to make your landscape fire safe. And you will find that a fire safe landscape can increase your property value and conserve water while beautifying your home. Visit Ready for Wildfire for more details.
We haven't experienced any major earthquakes in the Los Angeles area for a while (thankfully!) but it's still important to be ready for one. I have lived in California all my life, so it has become part of my life to take careful precautions to protect my home from earthquake damage as well as preventing injury.
7. The Earthquake Country Alliance says first and foremost arrange your home for safety to prevent injury and damage. Make sure that bookcases, large file cabinets, flat screen TVs, mirrors and artwork are anchored. Store heavy objects on low shelves. Store breakable objects in cabinets with latches. And, never hang heavy items over a bed or other areas where they may fall down on you!
8. You may need to evacuate quickly after an earthquake, leaving behind important financial documents. You can minimize any financial hardship by having the right documents with you. Create a "grab-and-go" bag with important documents such as identification, emergency credit card, and what you need to file an insurance claim. You can learn more about this "grab-and-go" bag as well as strengthening your property at Earthquake Country Alliance. Or if you prefer the electronic world, scan important documents and have them live in the "cloud."
9. Again, it's important to review your homeowners policy with your insurance agent to determine whether you have the right protection. Many states offer earthquake insurance. Generally speaking, earthquake insurance covers damages to the home or its contents that are caused by earthquake.
10. Know where your gas, electric, and water main shutoffs are located and how to turn them off in case the earthquake causes a leak or electrical short. This preparedness can prevent significant further damage and injury. Learn more about how to be prepared and how to create an earthquake kit at Moving Happiness Home.