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. Natural disasters are becoming more common and we all need to have a disaster preparedness plan.
Significant Changes in Weather Patterns- Rethink Your Risk Before Natural Disaster Strikes And Be Ready
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.”
Natural Disaster Doesn’t Always Happen To Someone Else
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.
How To Create A Natural Disaster Preparedness Plan
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.
Check Your Insurance Coverage
It is also important to re-evaluate your risk profile once a year. This will help 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. 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.
Use A Disaster Prep Guide
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 on how to prepare for tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and wildfires and can serve as natural disaster checklist to help you be prepared.
- Floods Disaster Prep Guide
- Tornadoes Disaster Prep Guide
- Earthquakes Disaster Prep Guide
- Wildfires Disaster Prep Guide
- Hurricanes Disaster Prep Guide
Make Natural Disaster Preparations
There are many things you can do to prepare if you are in the possible path of a coming storm or fire.
- Have a disaster preparedness plan. Learn your community’s evacuation routes. If possible, designate a point of contact out of state in case your family is separated during a flood.
- Prepare your home. Move items you want to protect to a higher floor. Be prepared to turn off electrical power. Keep emergency kits in your home and car.
- Store insurance info safely. Make regular updates to your homeowners or renters insurance policy and home inventory. Store both in a secure place, such as a waterproof safe, a safe deposit box or online. Keep contact information for your insurance agent and insurance company on hand.
- Create a home inventory checklist.
Make An 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? Do you have a natural disaster preparedness plan?