Irma: The insurance steps to take now for a Cat 5 storm

The approach of a Category 5 storm like Hurricane Irma of course means preparing to secure properties and stock up  on supplies including bottled water, but it’s also an important moment to organize and protect key financial documents such as an insurance policy, state officials said Tuesday.

You can talk to insurance agents ahead of the storm if you have questions about what your policy covers, but it might not be possible to add coverage with a major storm this close. If you don’t have already have flood insurance, for example, there is typically a 30-day wait before it is effective.

It is easy to take for granted access to electronic copies of records, but remember electric power, wireless and cellular networks can be all be disrupted by a major storm.

That’s why making a copy of key records such as your insurance policy and an agent’s card and putting them in a waterproof bag might not be a bad idea, according to an Emergency Financial Preparedness Toolkit available free at myFloridaCFO.com.

“Hurricane Irma is a major and dangerous storm, and Floridians must take steps now to make sure their families are prepared,” Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis said. ‘There’s no reason to wait, and families have everything to gain by taking a proactive approach. Consumers should stock up on necessary supplies, and families should discuss their disaster and evacuation plans well ahead of the storm’s landfall.”

Tips from Patronis’s office:

  • Inventory your high-dollar household items, including receipts, purchase dates, and serial numbers. Photograph or videotape your possessions. Keep copies of this information with your insurance policies and cards in a safe place. Store the originals in a safe deposit box, if possible.

 

  • Print insurance policies and take note of hurricane deductibles. Most policies have a hurricane deductible equivalent to 2 to 5 percent of a home’s insured value. If your property is damaged, you will be responsible for a portion of the repair costs.

 

  • Write down the name, address, and claims-reporting telephone number of your insurance company, which may differ from your agent’s contact information. Keep this information in a safe place and make sure you have access to it if you must evacuate.

 

  • Shore up your structure. Buy materials that can secure your property and minimize your losses. Cover your windows with shutters, siding, or plywood. Move vehicles into a garage or carport. Grills and patio furniture should be taken inside.

After the storm,  if consumers sustain damage to their home or property, the state’s toll-free Insurance Consumer Helpline staff can help with the insurance claims filing process at 1-877-693-5236.

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