TDCI Reminds Consumers About National Preparedness MonthPreparing Today Can Reduce Risk To Lives, Finances After A Disaster
NASHVILLE — Disaster can happen anytime, anywhere and take many forms including severe weather, fire, flooding or earthquakes. In 2020, Tennesseans have faced peril from numerous events including multiple tornadoes, the spread of the COVID-19 virus and a derecho wind event, among other challenges. Earlier this week, residents across Middle Tennessee evacuated their homes as they raced to escape flash flooding.
During September, which is recognized as National Preparedness Month, the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI) highlights the importance of preparing for a disaster today to help ensure the physical and financial security of Tennesseans tomorrow. And the time to prepare for a disaster – including making plans, gathering supplies and having appropriate insurance coverage – is before a disaster occurs.
“2020 has taught us all about Tennesseans’ resiliency in the face of this year’s unprecedented challenges and hardships,” said TDCI Commissioner Hodgen Mainda. “I commend my fellow Tennesseans for their commitment to rebuilding and recovery in the midst of these challenges. During September, I urge all Tennesseans to renew their commitment to preparedness by making a disaster plan, reviewing their insurance policies and teaching the next generation about the importance of disaster preparedness.”
Unfortunately, disasters often catch families and homeowners off guard, leaving them ill-equipped to overcome the financial burdens that can come from rebuilding. For example, one inch of floodwater in a home can cause an estimated $25,000 in damages which would not be covered by a typical homeowners’ insurance policy and could create a financial catastrophe for a working family. Thankfully, there are separate flood insurance policies that can be purchased through the National Flood Insurance Program.
“Preparing for a disaster is something all Tennesseans can and should address with their families and loved ones,” said TDCI Assistant Commissioner for Insurance Rachel Jrade-Rice. “Now is the time to review your insurance policies — whether they are homeowners, renters, flood or health policies — to make sure you have adequate coverage in place should a disaster strike. If consumers have questions about their policies, our team is here to answer questions and Tennesseans can file a complaint should they feel one is necessary — usually if they believe their insurance policy is not being followed.”
To assist consumers in preparing for a disaster, TDCI is sharing these tips to help consumers in the event of a disaster:
Prepare a disaster kit today.
Disaster can strike without warning, leaving you little time except to make your escape. Creating a disaster kit with enough nonperishable food, bottled water, medicine and other supplies that can last for several days for everyone in your home is imperative. Remember to consider the unique needs of each person or pet in case you must evacuate very quickly, such as specific medications and medical supplies. Additionally, you might want to include items such as face masks and hand sanitizer in case you must go to a shelter after the disaster strikes.
Make a home inventory.
Conduct an annual inventory of your home’s contents to have in the event you have to file an insurance claim after a disaster strikes. Take pictures and videos of your items, and update the list when you buy new items. Store the inventory list, photos and video in a secure place such as a safe deposit box or online in the cloud. Home inventory materials can be downloaded here.
Be financially prepared for an emergency.
Financial preparedness is one of the most important ways to prepare yourself and your loved ones. Gather financial, critical, personal, household and medical information and consider saving money in an emergency savings account that could be accessed in a crisis. Additionally, keep a small amount of cash at home in a safe place in case you must evacuate quickly as ATM or credit card systems might be down during a disaster. Cash can help you purchase necessary supplies, fuel or food in the event electronic payments are down.
Review your insurance policies.
Make sure the amount and types of coverages you have meet the requirements for all possible hazards, your financial needs and your risk profile. For example, homeowners and renters in-surance policies do not typically cover flooding. To learn more about flood insurance coverage, visit the National Flood Insurance Program’s website. Additionally, homeowners insurance does not cover earthquake damage so you may want to consider purchasing an earthquake insurance policy if you live along one of Tennessee’s two seismic zones where most earthquake activity occurs. If you don’t own your home, renter’s insurance is a tool that can help you prepare financially for a disaster by protecting the contents within your rented property. Never assume your landlord’s insurance policy covers your belongings.
Questions about a policy? Contact the Division of Insurance’s Consumer Insurance Services Division at (615) 741-2218 or 1-800-342-4029 today.