Boston area insurance companies are keeping a watchful eye on the latest storm surge report issued by CoreLogic for 2016. While the report specifically references the more than 6.8 million homes on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts at risk of damage from hurricane storm surges, the harsh realty is that flooding – regardless of whether you’re on the coast or not – is responsible for major damage each year throughout the United States. Let’s take a more in-depth look into what you can do to better prepare for the potential risks of flooding.
Boston Area Insurance – Water, Water, Everywhere?
As is the case with any natural disaster affecting homes and homeowners, potential damage due to flooding can push repair and reconstruction costs into the billions of dollars. With the number of homes and the costs to repair or rebuild them reaching historical highs, it pays to be vigilant regarding possible flood events caused by high winds, storm surges, dam breaks or swollen rivers.
If you’re like most people, you try not to think about a disaster like a flood that may adversely affect your property or your family’s safety. Often, the old adage “Out of sight, out of mind” rings true. After all, if it’s been years and years since your area has experienced a major flood event, it’s just not something you think about – or worry about – very much. Boston area insurance insiders refer to the phenomenon as “flood amnesia,” a reference to the idea that we tend to forget floods happen. And if flooding doesn’t happen on a frequent basis, we tend to ignore it.
However, if you live in a flood-prone area, weather changes are worth being cautious about – and prepared for. If you have flood insurance, you most likely obtained it because it was required by your mortgage lender. But required or not, it’s a good idea to keep it. After all, like any other insurance, it’s better to have it when you need it than to not have it and wish you did.
While the coastal areas and neighboring states prepare as best they can for what many experts warn may be an unusually active hurricane season, Boston area insurance experts say you should be equally prepared for the unexpected – that could result from potential flooding.
Safeguard your possessions. Make a personal “flood file” including information on all your home’s possessions and your personal belongings. Keep the file in a safe, secure and dry place like a safe deposit box or a waterproof container. Make sure the flood file contains the following:
- A copy of your insurance policies along with your agent’s contact information (preferably with his cell phone number) if power lines are down or if offices are closed.
- A household inventory list including a written or visual record of the major household items, valuables and other belongings. Many people have a photo album or home video documenting home possessions. Be sure to include serial numbers and store receipts of major home electronics and appliances. Make sure to have any artwork or jewelry appraised and insured separately, if needed. Many of these documents will be vitally important in the event of an insurance claim.
- Copies of other important documents, including financial records and receipts of major purchases. You may need these to substantiate a Boston area insurance claim.
Boston Area Insurance – Prepare Your Home
Ensure that your sump pump is working properly. Then, install a battery-operated backup in the event of a power failure. Consider installing a water alarm to alert you if water accumulates in your home’s basement or crawl space. Make sure to remove any debris from your gutters and downspouts. If you have fuel tanks, make sure they are anchored securely. Raise your electrical components like switches and circuit breakers a minimum of one foot above your home’s projected flood elevation. Place the water heater, furnace, washer and dryer on cement blocks at least a foot above the projected flood elevation. Lastly, move your furniture, valuable possessions and important documents to a safe, dry place.
Have a family emergency plan. Of course, nothing is more important in the event of a natural disaster than your family. Possessions can be replaced – the safety of your loved ones is something to always prepare for in an emergency.
- Start a safety kit including drinking water, canned foods, first aid and medicines, blankets, a radio and a flashlight.Make sure you have fresh batteries.
- Post emergency telephone numbers by the phone or in your cell phone and teach your children to dial 911 if they need to.
- Plan and practice – more than once – a flood evacuation safety route with your family.
- Be aware of the safest routes from home, work and school that are on higher ground.
- Make sure you have an out-of-state friend or relative that can be your emergency family contact.
- Have a plan in place to protect your pets.
With a little advance planning, you can ensure your home and your family can be ready if and when the unexpected occurs.
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