PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Tropical Weather

May 28, 2014

Insurance: How to be ready if you need to make a claim

Southeast Texans have plenty of experience with hurricanes in recent years, so planning and preparation are second nature for many as storm season approaches each summer.

Hurricane Rita in September 2005 brought massive wind damage to the region, while Hurricane Ike in September 2008 delivered a devastating storm surge. While the damage from each storm was different, the result was widespread damage and devastation.

Before the start of storm season, planning is the key. Making sure home-owners insurance coverage is updated, as well as flood or windstorm, will make your family’s life a little less stressful in the longrun.

A key tip, according to Debbie Bull of Jay Ayers Allstate Insurance in Orange, which may be helpful before and after any potential storm, is to have your roof inspected and make sure it is up to standard.

“A good, solid roof on your house is very important,” Bull said. “The majority of people in the area had some sort of roof damage during Hurricane Rita, and many people got a new roof out of it. If you didn’t get a new roof after Rita, then you probably need one now.”

Bull said standards have improved and roofs and shingles are now made to withstand more from Mother Nature.

“Most architectural shingles are made to withstand hurricane force winds, up to a point,” she added. “If you are not sure about the age or condition of your roof, then have it looked at by a certified roofer. They can tell you pretty quick what shape it is in. The better condition your roof is in, then the better off you may be after a storm.”

Many insurance agencies, as well as the Texas Department of Insurance, suggest following many of the tips for your protection and future needs.



BEFORE THE STORM

• Keep an inventory. Complete a Home Inventory Checklist that you can print or save to a disk and keep somewhere secure. Consider e-mailing it to yourself to ensure you’ll have it wherever you are. Also take photos or videotape of each room and the exterior of your home to keep with your inventory.

• Gather important documents and insurance cards and policies. Unless they are stored in a safe place, take health insurance cards; auto and home insurance policies; and an inventory of your possessions, including receipts and photos or videos.

• Know what your policy covers. Make certain your homeowners or commercial property coverage is still in force and that it provides adequate coverage to pay the full replacement cost of your property. Check your auto policy to see if you have comprehensive coverage “other than collision.” Comprehensive coverage pays if a storm, fire, or flood damages your car. Find out how much coverage you have for “additional living expenses” to cover lodging, food, and other expenses if you’re forced to vacate your residence after suffering a covered loss.

• Know your policy limits. Contact your agent and check the limits of your policies. For homeowners policies, ask about limits for contents and buildings. Your limits may be too low if replacement costs have risen because of new additions, improvements, or inflation.

• Review your health coverage. Find out if you’ll be able to receive non-emergency care from out-of-network providers, if needed, without accruing additional out-of-pocket costs.

• Consider renters insurance if you don’t have it. A landlord’s insurance policy usually covers the house or building, but not the personal property of the building’s tenants. If you rent an apartment, duplex, house, or townhouse, you may need renters insurance to protect your belongings.

• Consider business interruption coverage. Business interruption coverage compensates you for lost income and certain operating expenses if you are forced to vacate your business because of a loss covered in your policy.

• Consider alternative storing methods for company files. Important documents can be scanned and stored in a safe location. Also consider taking photos of office equipment and furniture.

• Consider purchasing flood and wind and hail coverage. You may have to buy separate policies through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) to cover wind, hail, and flood damage. Homeowners, farm and ranch, renters, windstorm, and condominium policies don’t cover damage from rising waters.

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