iStock_000073338941_Small

Residents of South Carolina know full-well that hurricanes can cause extensive damage and devastation the closer to the coast you are. But, because the state remains a favorite location for people to move to – those new to the possible intensity and pounding of fall and winter storms – even farther inland – should be prepared by taking note of a few of these helpful tips in hurricane preparedness. It could minimize the risk of injury as well as keep claims on your homeowners insurance at a minimum.

• Before the storm
It all begins with personal safety ahead of any storm. Prepare an evacuation plan for your family and identify the nearest storm shelter. Be sure to have hurricane survival supplies, which include the following:

o Plenty of bottled water
o First Aid kit
o Flashlights (with extra batteries)
o Battery-operated radio
o Three or more days of non-perishable food items
o Blankets
o Extra clothing
o Prescription drugs (as required by family members)
o Eye glasses
o Personal hygiene supplies
o Cash for at least 3 days
o You pet’s leash/collar/food

• After the storm
The first few days following a natural disaster are often confusing and stress-filled. Once you’re confident everyone you care about is okay – it’s important for you to focus on contacting your insurance company and filing your claim(s) as quickly as possible. By doing so – you’ll help protect your financial future – as well as taking the initial step to having your home restored.

Make sure you carry your homeowners policy number and other relevant information with you at all times so you can refer to it easily should everything you own be destroyed by the storm. Time may be of the essence as some policies may require you make notification within a set time frame.

As is often the case, severe damage caused by devastating storms can take years to settle with insurers and damage can take years to repair. So, be aware of this.

Take photographs/video of the damage before you begin clean-up or repairs. After you’ve done the preliminary inventory and documented the damage, make the repairs you deem necessary to prevent any further damage to your home and property

Start by covering broken windows, leaking roofs, and damaged walls, but DO NOT make permanent repairs until your insurance company has inspected the property and all parties have reached an agreement on the cost of repairs. If available, provide the claims adjuster with records of any improvements or modifications you may have made prior to the damage.

Receipts will be vital. Save them all, including those from the temporary repairs, such as boarding up the windows or doors.

Should your home be damaged beyond repair or to the extent that you cannot live there safely, ask your insurance company or insurance agent if you have coverage for additional living expenses. Chances are you do.

It goes without saying that, after such a stressful event, tempers may be short, but staying calm and cooperating fully with the insurance company is to your advantage. Ask what documents, forms and data you need to file the claim. By keeping a diary, you’ll have a record of all conversations with the insurance company and your insurance agent, including names, times and dates of the calls, including visits and important contact information.

In case you have a disagreement with the adjuster or calls aren’t returned in a timely manner, you can refer to your notes. Furthermore, if you believe you are being treated unfairly, contact the South Carolina Department of Insurance, Division of Consumer Services by calling 800-768-3467 or via e-mail at consumers@doi.sc.gov.

While the weather may be unpredictable and can change from one day to the next – dealing with your homeowners insurance company shouldn’t be. If you’re not happy with the rates or the service you’re getting – it’s time you get some free South Carolina homeowners insurance quotes today.

Do you believe in being prepared for severe storms? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.