Hurricane Irma will likely make landfall in the U.S. within the next few days. This is an extremely dangerous Category 5 storm. It will likely have major impacts throughout the Southeast.
You want to keep your home, family and assets as safe as possible during Irma. After the storm, you'll likely have questions about how to use your insurance to help you rebuild your life. Let us be an asset and an advocate for you when you come back, but take steps to keep yourself safe right now.
Don't Wait, Evacuate
If the authorities order you to evacuate, then leave. We cannot understate the importance of getting out of the storm's way. Attempting to ride out Irma in your home might be life-threatening.
With the right preparation, you can evacuate knowing that you have covered all of your bases.
- Secure Your Property: It may be difficult to prevent damage to your home or business during a Category 5 storm. However, you can reduce the chances of total property loss. Board up your windows and doors, and seal the home as best you can to try to keep water out. You might consider using artificial dams or sandbags to try to redirect the flow of water. Shut off your utilities including HVAC, electricity and water lines before you leave.
- Take Your Vehicles: Vehicles are likely to sustain damage during strong hurricanes. These include cars, boats and other vehicles, such as RVs or ATVs. If you must leave vehicles behind, store them as best you can. Place them in a garage or under a tarp, and consider using anchors to keep them stable.
- Safeguard Your Valuables: Cover furniture, lock closets and put away small items. Consider moving items out of your attic or garage and into a less exposed part of the home. Always attempt to place your valuables in high places protect them from flood waters. Often, it is a good idea to take your most precious possessions with you when you evacuate.
- Gather Important Items: Keep copies of important documents on hand. These may help you in emergency situations. Take the following with you:
- Drivers licenses or other photo ID
- Insurance policies, including homeowners, renters, car, health, life and business policies
- Social Security cards and birth certificates
- The information of your utility providers
- Bank information, such as credit cards, recent statements or tax files
- Titles, deeds or other ownership documents
- Receipts or value declarations on personal property
- Medical information and doctors' files. Don't forget to take verification of your prescriptions, and a supply of any medications you take.
- Have an Evacuation Plan: Most states outline evacuation routes to help people leave in emergency situations. However, you can still expect delays as masses of people evacuate as wrong. Make sure your vehicle is in good working order, then make room for your most precious items. Take along a supply of non-perishable food and personal items. It may be difficult to find accommodations upon evacuation. Make sure your family, including your pets, have all the items they need to an extended period away from home.
What to Expect During a Storm
Until the storm passes, you won't know how exactly it affected your property. However, major hurricanes have a calling card. When you return home, you might expect:
- Wind Damage. Trees may fall and high winds can easily tear the roofs off buildings and cause major structural damages.
- Flooding and Water Damage. Flooding and water damage can arise from more than just rain accumulation. Rivers and tributaries may overflow their banks. In coastal areas, storm surge from the ocean can pour into inland areas.
- Ongoing utility outages may affect your area for quite some time. Widespread infrastructure damage often occurs in hurricanes.
Also expect emergency services to be congested and retail operations to be delayed. These services will likely become overwhelmed as they manage emergencies.
You can expect your local area to face an extensive recovery period. Wait until you receive an all-clear order from the authorities to return to your home. We will be here when you get back. Your various insurance policies may be able to help as you begin to reassemble your life.
When you return, start by comprehensively surveying the damage to your property. Take photos and document the value of lost items. Then, call us or your insurance company immediately. Do not wait to file claims on your property. Insurance companies will likely become overwhelmed as they try to process multiple claims. The longer you wait, the more likely you are to experience delays and possible claims denials.
Do not attempt to repair or replace any insured property until you've talked to your insurer. Making repairs before filing claims may make the process harder or reduce the funds you can receive.
It is likely too late to adjust your policies now to beef up coverage before a storm. Most insurance companies place moratoriums on coverage before large storms like Irma. Therefore, if you don't have hurricane or flood insurance already, you may not be able to get it at this late hour. But, don't worry. Our team will help you maximize your policies' coverage when you get home. We will make sure you get any funds you qualify for to help you repair the damage.
We are here for you. If you need Fulton Agency, Inc. following Hurricane Irma, call us at (954) 752-8610. You can also contact us online.