This conversation around disaster preparedness is sponsored by NAIC, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. They are the non-profit, standard setting body that regulates the insurance industry and provides free and unbiased resources through InsureUOnline.org to help consumers get smart about their insurance options.
Significant Changes in Weather Patterns:
Have you noticed that the news seems to be reporting more floods, fires, hurricanes, and tornados lately? The fact is, according to the EPA, “extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and/or severe around the world.” The U.S. has experienced significant shifts in the frequency, severity and location of disasters.
One of the many weather changes that impacts me the most is rain. If you are thinking, “What is the problem with rain?” Well, nothing until it just keeps raining and you find yourself in the middle of a flood.
According to nca2014.globalchange.gov, “Heavy downpours are increasing nationally, especially over the last three to five decades. The heaviest rainfall events have become heavier and more frequent, and the amount of rain falling on the heaviest rain days has also increased. Since 1991, the amount of rain falling in very heavy precipitation events has been significantly above average. This increase has been greatest in the Northeast, Midwest, and upper Great Plains – more than 30% above the 1901-1960 average. There has also been an increase in flooding events in the Midwest and Northeast, where the largest increases in heavy rain amounts have occurred.”
In 2010, about a year after we moved to Nashville, we were shocked to find ourselves in the middle of a record flood. I never expected Nashville to flood and it was a real eye opener that natural disasters can strike anywhere, any time. We were without electricity for two days and many of my neighbors had flooded houses and basements. It was total devastation for some streets, and months afterward, we watched as they piled up the contents of homes on the curb for trash collection and peeled houses back to studs. It is actually emotional just for me to remember how bad it was. Even now, 7 years later, when it rains for several days, my neighbors and I exchange worried words and looks.
I say all this because disasters are on the rise and it is important to be aware of changes in weather patterns in your area and be prepared.
Rethink Your Risk Before The Storm & Prepare
Basic natural disaster preparation is always a good idea. At minimum, try to have a little store of bottled water, non-perishable food, a first aid kit, flashlights, and a battery-powered radio on hand at all times.
It is also important to re-evaluate your risk profile once a year and to ensure that your existing homeowners policy provides the protection you and your family may need. Shifts in weather patterns can impact your home insurance needs and you don’t want to find out that you aren’t covered after the fact. Note that floods are not covered by a typical homeowners policy, so you may want to consider additional coverage. Many people I know found this out after the 2010 flood. Take a look at current flood plain maps of your area and see if you may be at risk. The idea here is to make sure that you know your risk and you know your coverage so you aren’t just blindly hoping everything is fine. Plan to review your policy and pay special attention to optional coverages at the same time each year. You will be glad you had those important discussions regarding your home insurance and you will feel better understanding what is covered.
Are you interested in learning more about insurance education information for homeowners? If there is any chance you may be faced with extreme weather patterns or threats of natural/ man-made disasters occurring in your region, get educated about insurance considerations that may impact your family by visiting InsureUOnline.org and their Disaster Preparedness Page.
You may wish to download the Insure U Disaster Prep Guides to help you determine the best course of action before, during and after specific disaster types. The guides include information and tips for tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and wildfires.
Home Inventory Checklist
Another useful resource is the NAIC homeowners home inventory checklist. It helps you catalog your belongings before a disaster so that in case you need to file a claim at some point, you will be more prepared. The home inventory checklist is available as free app in the Apple Store and in Google Play. It is also available as a printable PDF.
For any specific insurance questions, you can contact your state insurance department and all contact information by state can be found at http://map.naic.org.
Did you know that there have been significant changes in the weather patterns? Have you ever considered how those may affect your insurance needs?