Understand the Threats
In order to prepare for natural disasters, you need to understand the possibilities that exist that are more likely in your area — and anticipate them. Knowing what you need to add on to protect your property is your first task. Think about natural disasters that have higher likelihoods in your area. Do you live in a hurricane-prone region or along a rumbling fault line? You'll need to add on extra coverage that applies to your area and climate.
Next, carefully review your primary policy to determine what is and isn't covered. Some policies have exclusions for certain types of damage stemming from events like floods and earthquakes. Fortunately, you can purchase riders for floods, earthquakes, and other terrors Mother Nature can unleash. You'll just need to add them to your policy separately. It's an extra step but one that's well worth it. Consult our Help Center for more guidance about this process.
Know What You Can Do and What You Shouldn't Do
You may feel pretty helpless in the face of a natural disaster. There isn't much you can do to control the weather, right? But there are some things you can do to reduce or even in some cases avoid damage. Above all, put your own safety first, please! Heed all warnings and directions from your local authorities. Nothing you own is worth risking your life over.
Floods & Hurricanes
Prepare in advance:
- If you have enough notice, check trees for loose limbs. Staying on top of this type of maintenance is a smart way to avoid damage in stormy weather. Cut down any loose limbs or those hanging too close to your house.
- Keep an eye on your roof for loose shingles. Schedule annual repairs as needed to make sure things hold up in stormy weather.
- Get your gutters and downspouts cleaned regularly to prevent blockages that can cause roof damage.
- Check all seals on doors and windows. Caulk holes and cracks to be sure each opening is weather-tight.
When you're under a storm warning:
- Prepare your home by moving everything up off the floor that you can. Put furniture on risers, blocks, or bricks.
- If you have multiple floors, carry as much of your stuff to higher levels as you can. Try to place items away from windows when possible.
- Cover electronics in heavy plastic sheeting. Anything that you can do to limit what's exposed to water may help reduce your loss.
- Board up windows with plywood or close all hurricane shutters.
- Outside of your home, you can sandbag low-lying areas. Make sure all drainage grates are free of debris.
- Move lawn furniture and any outdoor items into your garage or basement.
Blizzards, ice storms, feet of snow — winter weather can get wild. Make sure you can stay safe and warm while keeping your home protected.
- Make sure your heating system is working properly. Not only do you need heat, but your pipes do too. Frozen pipes can lead to huge losses due to water leaks.
- Never use a generator inside your home if the power goes out. Seriously, don't do it. The carbon monoxide can kill you. Keep the generator outside so it gets ventilation.
- Keep trees and shrubs trimmed to avoid damage from limbs weighed down by heavy snow and ice. Heavy branches can damage your house and bring down power lines.
- Make sure all gutters and downspouts are cleared to avoid destruction from ice dams.
- When hit with significant heavy snow — a foot or two — your roof can get stressed. And this isn't the kind of stress a little meditation can fix. It's the kind of stress that can make the roof collapse. Use a broom or rake to remove some of the snow if possible. Don't climb up there, though. Hire a service if you're unable to remove the snow safely yourself.
In areas prone to quakes, arrange your home in a way that can help to prevent damage.
- Secure tall furniture and shelves to the wall with anchors to prevent tipping during a quake. Anchor your water heater to the wall, too.
- Think about storing heavier or more valuable pieces of art on lower shelves
- Avoid hanging heavy artwork and mirrors in areas over beds or sitting areas to avoid injury.
- Shut off utilities after an earthquake. Gas leaks from jostled utility connections can lead to fires, and burst water mains can cause flooding.
This is a tough one. One tiny change in the wind can put you in harm's way pretty quickly. If you live in a wildfire-prone area, you must keep on top of the warnings and be ready to move quickly.
- Creating a safe space around your home may help. Remove all dry branches and brush. Work with a landscaper to clear the property regularly.
- Landscape with plants and install outdoor materials that resist combustion.
- Avoid keeping flammables stored near your home. Those gas cans for the lawnmower? Stash them in a spot away from the house.
Create a Plan
Above else, have a plan. In advance. Get started on it now. It's difficult to pull it together when you're faced with an incoming threat. Create an emergency kit and keep all important documents in a fire- and water-safe spot. Inform your family of your plan and anything they need to do during an emergency or to help everyone evacuate safely. Think about it from the standpoint of preventing the stress of losing what's important to you.
Ready to make some changes to your policy or choose a new one that's right for your needs? Learn more about coverage options here.