“WEW! WHAT A RELIEF!” or “THANK GOD!” were the responses from collective residents of South Louisiana last week, as we largely avoided the kind of mass-devastation many feared from Hurricane Barry. While much of the coast was decimated, we managed to escape with minimal losses.
We must continue to remain vigilant, however. While we were fortunate this time, there will be another storm-it’s not a matter of if, but when. I am writing today in hopes that I can add some insight that will be valuable when the next storm comes, whether it be in 10 days or 10 years.
Here are a few tips on how to be even better-prepared next time:
1. Have a plan for any disaster that can take place, not just hurricanes. While this blog focuses primarily on these whether events, have plans for other disasters as well. Such disasters could include floods, tornados, mudslides and the like, or other natural disasters or man-made disasters such as chemical spills or fires, explosions, etc…
2. Have an evacuation plan in place…the only place that worse to ride out a storm than a poorly-prepared property is in a car stuck on an ill-prepared road…Don’t risk it, get in the car and go!
3. Have a written checklist of supplies you will need in the event you do have to ride the storm out. Equally important, have a plan for what you will need to take with you if you decide to leave. Among your documents, make sure that you take contact information for people and departments that you will need to contact after the storm. Most importantly, have a plan that accounts for all living beings (your family, your pets, your relatives that may need to depart with you, etc…)http://www.lsp.org/pdf/Emergency_Guide_v46b_7-1_4p.pdf
4. Have a plan for your return, or what to do after the storm passes. Part of this plan involves knowing what is covered by your insurance and what is not. Equally important is knowing what your deductibles are, and how the insurance company accounts for them
5. Have a plan for how to deal with the carnage a storm can create. You cannot prevent a storm, but you can plan for how to avoid putting yourself in harms way afterwards. Make sure to be aware of safe return routes, how to avoid looting and mayhem, and how to begin the recovery after you get home. Begin recovery ASAP, as much damage happens by leaving items in saturated dwellings too long from the storm or flooding itself
6. Know what can be salvaged, and what needs to go. Many people throw out appliances, furniture, and other goods that could be restored. Replacing items that could be repaired sometimes leads to needless extra expenses
7. Rely on the professionals to help you as you recover. Use resources such as GOSEP, State Police, and local authorities such as Department of Health, and even mosquito control or animal control if necessary.
8. Finally, rely on your insurance professionals. We are here for times like these! We can help you know what to dispose of, what to take pictures of, and how to minimize losses in the event that you do suffer a property claim. If you do not agree with the value that an adjuster says your claim is worth, let your agent know. An independent insurance agent or broker’s job is to represent your interests at all times, whether when he helps you select your policy, or even more importantly, when you have to use the insurance you used your hard-earned dollars to attain.
In summary, disasters cannot be avoided entirely, but the impact can be somewhat minimized with a good plan. There are many resources you can use to create that plan, and your insurance professional is a critical one.