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Storm Season: Would You Know What to Do?

COLUMBUS, Ohio, March 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Raging winds, torrential downpours, thunder and lightening are all components of a storm that can potentially severely damage your home. Handling the aftermath is enough to lose your sanity over, but there are ways to protect yourself (and your sanity) while cleaning up after a storm.

"There are so many investments wrapped up in a home, the most important of which are memories," says Peter McMurtrie, chief claims officer from Grange Insurance. "However for those possessions of monetary value, your insurance policy should be able to help."

McMurtrie advises homeowners to do a few things before any weather emergency arises. At the top of the list is to prepare a storm disaster kit with water, non-perishable food, flashlights, batteries, a radio and blankets. If you already have a kit, check its contents and test flashlights and radio to see if replacements are needed.

"Make sure to put it in a place where the kit is easy to get to and remember during an emergency," McMurtrie says.

Other pre-storm actions to take include:

  • Check the land around your home to make sure there is no loose debris that can turn into flying torpedoes during the storm.
  • Know the safe spots in your home for quick hiding and easy escape. You may want to run through these routes with your family so they know where to go to be safe.
  • Take a detailed inventory of the items in your home and place copies of the list in easy-to-remember places like your disaster kit, office, or safe.
  • Along with list of home inventory, keep copies of important forms (i.e. insurance policies, appraisals, photos, video records) in same safe locations.

"One of the most important pieces of disaster preparedness is reviewing your insurance policy and understanding what is and is not covered," McMurtrie says. "While taking this step, it's also a good idea to make sure you have the appropriate amounts of coverage. Your independent agent can help you with this."

McMurtrie also suggests investing in flood insurance provided by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). According to a recent Mason-Dixon poll by the National Hurricane Survival Initiative, half of homeowners surveyed say their homeowner insurance covered flood damage or weren't sure.

"The fact is that unless you've purchased a flood insurance policy from the NFIP or a private insurer, chances are, your home isn't covered from floods, wind-driven water or storm surges," McMurtrie says.

After the storm hits, the damage could be quite overwhelming but knowing what to do could make the situation a bit less stressful.

"Make a list of damages to your home and possessions inside. This will come in very handy for insurance claims, applications for disaster assistance and income tax deductions," McMurtrie says.

As for when to report a claim, McMurtrie advises to file it once you have ensured your personal safety and the safety of your family. Grange and other insurance companies can provide assistance and advice on mitigating the damages, tips on locating and hiring a contractor. The sooner your insurance company is aware of the claim the sooner they can get to work at responding to customers needs.

Other post-storm actions include:

  • Be aware of loose power lines and gas leaks. Do not smoke or use candles, gas lanterns or other open-flame devices to prevent explosions.
  • If you decide to make repairs to home, keep receipts for storm-related expenses.
  • Have electronics and appliances properly checked for water damage.
  • Check for cracks in your foundations and examine roofs and overhangs.

McMurtrie says most of all to "be smart and cautious. Don't put your family or yourself in harm's way; if you can't tell if something is unsafe, it's better to let the proper authorities check it out."

Source: Grange Insurance

Copyright PRNewswire (2007). All Rights Reserved.

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