When preparing for a hurricane don't forget to come up with a plan of how you will handle the storm's immediate aftermath.
The Insurance Institute of Business and Home Safety offers these steps to take after the storm passes.
Tips for recovering after a hurricane
Protect yourself. Be careful when entering a damaged building. If there is serious structural damage, contact local officials before entering. Report downed power lines or gas leaks. Keep electricity turned off if the building has flooded.
Protect your property. Take reasonable steps to protect your property from further damage. This could mean boarding up windows and salvaging undamaged items. Your insurance company can tell you what they will pay for regarding protection.
Report the loss as soon as possible. Contact your insurance agent or insurer as soon as you can. Provide a general description of the damage and have your policy number handy if possible. Write down the adjuster’s name, phone number and work schedule as soon as you have them.
Prepare a list. Keep damaged items or portions of them until the claim adjuster has visited, and consider photographing or videotaping the damage to document your claim. Prepare a list of damaged or lost items for your adjuster.
Keep receipts. If you need to relocate, keep records and receipts for all additional expenses. Most insurance policies cover emergency living arrangements.
Return claim forms After your insurance company has been notified of your claim, they must send you the necessary claim forms within a certain number of days (time period varies by state). Fill out and return the forms as soon as possible. If you do not understand the process, be sure to ask questions and write down the explanation.
Cleanup. When starting the cleanup process, be careful, and use protective eyewear and gloves if available. Adjusters may tell business owners to hire a professional cleaning service.
How to prepare for the next hurricane
To be prepared for the next storm, the Insurance Information Institute says to be sure you have enough insurance so that you'll be able to rebuild your home and replace your personal belongings.
Be sure to notify your insurance agent if you have made major improvements to your home, or you have made significant purchases. These new values should be reflected in your policy.
Also, be sure to know how much your policy allows for Additional Living Expenses (ALE). Additional living expenses coverage pays for the additional costs of living away from home, such as hotel costs and restaurant meals, while your home is being repaired or rebuilt. If you rent out part of your home, it may also replace lost income.
Many insurance policies provide coverage for 20 percent of the amount of insurance you have on your house and may be for a specified time period. More coverage is usually available for an extra premium.
Remember to ask about flood insurance. Flood damage is not covered under standard home insurance policies. Insurance is available from the National Flood Insurance Program and can be purchased from the same agent or broker who provided your home or renters insurance.