Take action with insurance

Published 10:37 pm Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Hurricane Florence will be making landfall before the weekend, and the closer the storm gets, the more homes and personal property are at risk.

Small efforts can help ease the possibility of destruction to property both inside and outside of the home.

“As far as preparing your home, it is key to get all the debris out of your yard. This is chairs, tables, outdoor kids’ toys,” said president of Suffolk Insurance Hunter Odom. “Try and secure doors and windows the best you can, but if you are in a flood-prone area, you should evacuate.”

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Before the hurricane starts affecting the area, it is just as important to secure important documents.

“It’s a good idea to get your insurance policy out and handy. You’ll want to confirm what your deductibles are so you know ahead of time before you make a claim,” Odom said.

It’s important to double- and triple-check policies so that there isn’t a surprise when it comes time to make a claim, because there are different types of deductibles, and not all of them are flat rates. Some deductibles are a certain percentage of the total value of the home if the damage was from a named hurricane.

If the paperwork is nowhere to be found, it is important to know the insurance company’s name, the agent’s name and the policy number, Odom said. With just those few pieces of information, people are able to file a claim.

After the storm passes, if damage has been incurred, the first thing to do is to take photos for insurance adjusters.

“If you have damage, it’s a good idea to take pictures of whatever is damaged,” Odom said. “When you call the insurance carrier, they set up for an adjuster to talk, and if it is severe they’ll send an adjuster to examine the damage.”

While there is an impulse to immediately repair the damage and start to return to normal, it is important to leave everything as is until an adjuster can handle the claim.

“You would want to keep anything that was damaged so they can see it,” Odom said.

Unfortunately, there are things that can’t be replaced or repaired after storms. Odom suggests taking jewelry, photo albums and sentimental items if evacuation is necessary. This ensures they won’t be ruined.

Critical paperwork is just as important as insurance paperwork.

“Take paperwork like your vehicle registration, birth certificates, deeds, Social Security cards, wills and tax records,” Odom said.

If people don’t evacuate, it is important to make sure these documents and other items are secured in a safe place that can be accessed after the storm.