(Alexandria, VA—September 2, 2008) – As Hurricane Hanna approaches, Tropical Storm Ike develops and Hurricane Gustav lingers around the already battered Gulf Coast, the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA) can discuss what consumers need to know about dealing with unpredictable storms and recovering from their wrath. Agents can explain flood insurance coverage, rebuilding efforts, disaster-related claims, and can help sort through the confusion of differing insurance policies and types of coverage. IIABA can also provide consumers with helpful tips for dealing with natural disasters.
IIABA EXPERTS CAN HELP:
Explain hurricane safety and flood readiness tips, including home inventory prep and utilities check-listing
Supply information on the National Flood Insurance Program
Detail safe evacuation procedures
Discuss how to recover from storm and flood losses, whether or not the property is insured
Provide tips on emergency repairs and rebuilding, particularly in light of previous natural disaster damage
Offer tips for “drying out” safely and replacing belongings
Give advice on minimizing losses and damage as waters continue to rise
Provide financial information on small businesses and the uninsured
Flooding is the most pervasive and costly disaster in the U.S. In fact, homes in flood-prone regions are 26 times more likely to experience a flood over 30 years than a fire. Additionally, about one-third of flood victims each year live outside designated flood-prone areas. So no one is immune. IIABA provides the following tips regarding flooding:
Before a Flood:
Inventory all household items (videotape if possible) and store in a safe place with insurance policies, documents and other valuables.
Identify evacuation locations (listen to TV and radio stations).
Keep important telephone phone numbers and road maps handy.
Assemble a disaster supplies kit (water, first aid supplies, canned food, sleeping bags, battery-powered radio, flashlight, etc.) and fill your car's gas tank.
Abandon your car if stalled in rapidly rising waters and climb to higher ground.
When a warning is issued, move your furniture and valuables to higher floors of your home.
After a Flood:
Call your independent insurance agent as soon as possible.
Make temporary repairs to prevent further damage.
Hold off on permanent repairs until approved for reimbursement.
Keep all receipts and prepare an inventory of all damaged/destroyed property.
Take photos of damaged areas and meet with your insurance adjuster first, before signing anything with contractors, lawyers, or public adjusters.
Let your car dry out thoroughly before trying to start it.
GENERAL NATURAL DISASTER TIPS:
Call your independent insurance agent. Report the damage you know to your insurance agent; explain your overall situation. Ask any question you may think of. Am I covered? How long will it take to process my claim? Do I need to obtain estimates? If your agent has lost his or her business in the disaster as well, call the insurance company claim number directly. If you have lost your insurance policies and phone numbers for your insurance agent or company, call the state office for the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of your state, and it will provide you with a phone number for either your agency or the company you identify.
Do not return to your home until local authorities permit your return. Once you return home, do not enter the house until you examine the outside. Look at the foundation, any porches, stairs, overhangs, for any possible structural/foundation damage. If any structural support is missing or broken, the house is not safe. If there is obvious damage, have a building inspector check the house before you go in.
Make temporary repairs to prevent further weather related damage. Save receipts for any material you buy.
Take photos of any damaged items before you make any repairs. Make lists of these items. Include any information you have on the items such as brands, model numbers, where purchased, when purchased, etc. If you have old receipts or bills, gather them together. Even after you take photos, do not throw out expensive items because the adjuster will need to see them.
Keep copies of all lists and documents you submit to your insurance agent, or your insurance agent gives you.
Consumers can get other helpful insurance information on a variety of issues on IIABA’s consumer web site, www.TrustedChoice.com.
Founded in 1896, IIABA (the Big “I”) is the nation’s oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers, representing a network of more than 300,000 agents, brokers and their employees nationally. Its members are businesses that offer customers a choice of policies from a variety of insurance companies. Independent agents and brokers offer all lines of insurance—property, casualty, life, and health—as well as employee benefit plans and retirement products. Web address: www.independentagent.com.