Hurricane season begins on June 1. As we learned from Superstorm Sandy, natural disasters can happen here, so residents should be ready if disaster strikes again.
The most important step is to prepare your home and family for a disaster and be safe during a storm. Go to http://www.ready.gov for good advice from the federal government.
Homeowners also should know what their insurance protects them against—and what it doesn’t.
The first step: Read your policy. For example, homeowners’ insurance policies usually cover wind damage but do not cover damage caused by floods.
The second step: If you need more coverage, consider buying National Flood Insurance. The federal government offers insurance coverage beyond what private insurers provide. Contact your insurance company or go to http://floodsmart.gov. And don’t wait until the rain starts falling; there usually is a thirty-day waiting period for flood insurance to take effect.
The third step: If you have a loss, take steps to get the payment to which you are entitled. Contact your insurance company. Document your loss with photos and other information. (It’s even better if you have taken pictures and kept records of your house and its contents before the loss occurred.) If it’s a major loss, consider getting help from an experienced insurance lawyer, a public insurance adjuster, or other experts and professionals.
For good advice about all three steps, go to the website of United Policyholders, the nation’s leading advocate for insurance consumers: uphelp.org
Nothing can take away the hardship and emotional harm if your house is damaged in a disaster. But being prepared and being proactive about your insurance can at least soften the financial blow.