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Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricanes, Quakes, Smart Insurance Moves

What a week: An earthquake gave the East Coast a jolt and now a hurricane is bearing down.
Earthquakes, hurricanes and smart insurance moves | Reuters Money
By Mitch Lipka
Protect yourself first, by evacuating when it's advised or ordered. But take care of your property, too. Here are some tips from safety pros.
From Reuters Money

No one’s immune. Virgin Atlantic mogul Richard Branson’s compound on Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands was destroyed by fire this week after being struck by a Hurricane Irene-connected lightning bolt.
And, according to The Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, lightning can strike twice. So there’s no such thing as being too prepared.
Given that the weather is in motion, it’s time to deal with most folks’ biggest investment — their homes. So, whether you’re going to hunker down or be evacuated, batten down the hatches.
The questions you should be asking, according to Scott Spencer, senior vice president and worldwide appraisal and loss prevention manager for Chubb Personal Insurance, are: “Where are you going to go? What are going to take with you? And how you are going to secure your property?
If you have the time, check your policy to see what coverage you have for evacuation. Spencer said some policies (Chubb’s do) cover hotel costs when you have to flee for your own safety.
He suggests leaving behind fragile items — things more likely to damaged in transit — and move them to an interior location with some degree of protection from potential wind and water entering the home. “You shouldn’t take with you your fine arts. I wouldn’t recommend you take your priciest art work with you as you go down I-95.”
Some other important steps he suggests:
  • Bring outdoor items, such as porch furniture indoors so they don’t turn into projectiles. “If you can’t move patio furniture indoors, put it in a swimming pool. It’s a better place than leaving it on the patio.”
  • Unplug your major appliances and electronics to avoid power surge damage when electricity goes out and then comes back on.
  • Seal all windows and doors (leaving a window open a crack as an aid is an old-wives tale) and place towels and blankets against doors and vulnerable windows to help mitigate any water that might enter.
  • If you have a car in your garage, back it up until it is touching the garage door to help prevent the door from being blown in.
  • Take with you cash, your medications and your insurance policy, so it’s handy if you have to make a claim.
Flood insurance is separate and often overlooked, leaving many homeowners at risk of only having part of their loss covered.
“Those are things that are often times overlooked until the last minute,” Tomlinson says. “You can’t get insurance at the 12th hour. It’s mandatory they understand this up front.”
Spencer, from Chubb, noted that it’s worth shopping around for insurance and determining exactly what you covered for and what you’re not.
“Some  people think all insurance policies are the same,” he says. “They’re as different as cars.”

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