TDCI Shares Tips on Preparing for, Reacting to Severe Weather Ahead of Hurricane SeasonJune 1 Marks the Beginning of Hurricane and Severe Weather Season for Tennesseans
NASHVILLE – As June 1 marks the beginning of the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season, the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI) is advising Volunteer State residents how they can prepare and protect themselves before and after severe weather.
2017 saw a record-shattering amount of damage caused by 17 named storms including hurricanes Harvey and Irma that blasted the U.S. and left damages estimated at over $280 billion, making it the costliest hurricane season on record. With the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reporting that this year’s Atlantic Hurricane season will be near- or above-normal, it’s crucial that Tennesseans not only know how to prepare for a storm, but also know what to do after disaster strikes.
“There’s no way to stop severe weather but Tennessee residents can take steps now to be better prepared for it,” said TDCI Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “I urge Tennesseans to check their homeowners policies, keep an emergency kit, and create a home inventory in the event that severe weather strikes.”
TDCI and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) share the following tips to help your family prepare for severe weather:
- Create an emergency kit that includes bottled water, a first aid kit, flashlights, a battery-powered radio, non-perishable food items, blankets, clothing, prescription medications, eyeglasses, personal hygiene supplies, and a small amount of cash.
- Identify storm shelters available to you and your family. Prepare an evacuation plan and choose two meeting places: one right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency (like a fire), and one outside your neighborhood in case you can’t return home.
- Re-evaluate your existing homeowners policy at least once a year to ensure your policy provides adequate protection for your needs. It is important to note that traditional homeowners policies do not cover floods, so if you are at risk, you will need additional coverage.
- The majority of Tennessee homeowners are not covered by flood insurance. You can only purchase flood insurance through an insurance agent or an insurer participating in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). If you are in need of an agent that sells flood insurance, you can contact the NFIP Referral Call Center at 1-800-427-4661.
- Take steps to mitigate some of the potential damage to your home from natural disasters. Begin with a survey of your home and the area around your home to identify objects like yard debris that could compound damage to your home in high winds or under threat of wildfire.
- If you need to evacuate your home, turn off all utilities and disconnect appliances to reduce the chance of additional damage and electrical shock when utilities are restored.
- Keep a readily available list of 24-hour contact information for your insurance agent and insurance company. Make a list that includes your policy numbers, your insurance company and insurance agent's phone numbers, website addresses and mailing addresses. Also, check to see if the company or your agent has set up an emergency information hotline in case of storm damage. It is a good idea to store this information, and a home inventory, in a waterproof/fireproof safe or a safety deposit box.
- Create a home inventory. This can be invaluable when deciding what coverage options are right for you and your family.
- NAIC offers disaster prep guides for floods, severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, and earthquakes.
If you are affected by a disaster:
- File your claim as soon as possible. Call your insurance company or agent with your policy number and other relevant information. You policy may require that you make the notification within a certain time frame.
- Cooperate fully with the insurance company. Ask what documents, forms, and data you will need to file a claim. Keep a journal of all conversations with insurance companies, creditors, and relief agencies.
- Be certain to give your insurance company all the information they need. Incorrect or incomplete information will only cause a delay in processing your claim.
- If your home is damaged to the extent that you cannot live there, ask your insurance company if you have coverage for additional living expenses.
- Take photographs/video of any damage.
- Make the repairs necessary to prevent further damage to your property (cover broken windows, leaking roofs and damaged walls). Don’t have permanent repairs made until your insurance company has inspected the property and you have reached an agreement on the cost of repairs. Be prepared to provide the claims adjuster with records of any improvements you made prior to the damage.
- If you are dealing with a company or person who promises to remove debris from your property, ask them to list the services they will provide in writing. Do not make the final payment until you have inspected the job and are happy with it. Check around for prices to make sure you are not overcharged.
- Maintain any damaged personal property for the adjuster to inspect.
- Ask the adjuster for an itemized explanation of the claim settlement offer.
- Save all receipts, including those from the temporary repairs covered by your policy.
- Be wary of price gougers. Look for sudden dramatic increases in prices for necessities (such as gas, food, ice, water, other fuel, generators, and lodging) right before, during, or after a natural disaster. Keep a record of your transaction and record as many details as possible such as the location of the merchant, the date and time of your purchase, the method of payment, the price of the item in days prior to the sudden price increase, and the price you paid. You can report price gouging here.
- To file a complaint, visit us online or call (800) 342-4029 or (615) 741-2218.