Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricane Irene Insurance Tips & State-By-State Preparedness

6 insurance tips to prepare for Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene is bearing down on the East Coast. In its path are cities that haven't taken direct hits from a hurricane in years, and in some cases decades.

It's a good time to review how much hurricane damage coverage you can expect from standard homeowners, renters and automobile policies. Here are six insurance tips as the East Coast braces for Irene:

1. Take a property inventory: It's easier to file a damage claim if you know exactly what you own, and can document it. Free online software to help ease the process is available from the Insurance Information Institute at . The software enables users to upload photos of property as well as scanned receipts from major purchases. Or, a homeowner can write down a list of major property in a notebook, and take photos, noting key information about each item on the back.

2. Check policies: Read your insurance documents and review the scope of your existing coverage. Know your policy numbers, and where to call to file a claim. Call your agent or insurer with any questions. If you don't have hardcopy of your policy, be sure to check it online before the storm hits — you may not have power for a while after the storm. Don't expect to get a new or expanded policy in place before Irene hits. Insurers typically bar last-minute coverage changes as storms approach.

3. Know your policy's hurricane deductible: A standard homeowners policy includes a deductible, meaning the homeowner must pay for a portion of the damages before insurance covers the rest. Typically, that's either $500 or $1,000. However, out-of-pocket expenses for hurricane damages can be much higher. In 18 states on the East and Gulf coasts, insurers are allowed to include hurricane deductibles in homeowners policies. These amounts apply only to hurricane-caused damage, and typically range from 1 percent to 5 percent of the insured value of a home. Deductibles may be higher in some coastal areas. For example, a policyholder whose home is insured for $200,000 with a 2 percent hurricane deductible would have to pay the first $4,000 to repair hurricane damage.

The hurricane-prone states that allow insurers to assess hurricane deductibles include: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. The District of Columbia is included.

"Many homeowners have forgotten about these deductibles, because they live in places that haven't had a hurricane for years," said Michael Barry, a spokesman for the Insurance Information Institute.

Family Hurricane Preparedness Tips
As we enter the 2011 Hurricane Season, which experts are predicting to be very active, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is offering personal preparedness tips for the all of the citizens of the Commonwealth.

“Every home and business should have a stocked basic emergency supply kit that could be used for any emergency, regardless of the time of year,” states MEMA Acting Director Kurt Schwartz. “Everyone should keep certain items around the house and workplace in the event you are isolated for three to five days without power”

Each kit will be unique to each family, but should include a portable radio, flashlight, extra batteries, a supply of non-perishable foods, along with bottled water, a first aid kit, extra prescription medication, and extra food and supplies for infants and pets.

“All families should develop a ‘Family Emergency Communication Plan’ to help ensure everyone is safe. You should contact your local authorities to learn about your community’s potential evacuation routes and the location of emergency shelters,” said Schwartz. “It is important to familiarize yourself with your Community’s Emergency Plans before an emergency situation occurs.”

Develop a Disaster Supply Kit ‘Go Bag’, with essentials in case you must evacuate quickly.

•Canned goods and nonperishable foods that do not need cooking:
◦Canned meats and fish
◦Canned fruits and vegetables
◦Canned soups and puddings
◦Canned fruit juices
◦Dried fruit and nuts
◦Bread, cookies and crackers
◦Peanut butter and jelly
◦Coffee and tea
•Manual can opener
•Bottled water (1 gallon per person/per day)
more here

No matter where you live, officials say everyone should assemble an emergency supply kit (including a gallon of drinking water per person per day, nonperishable foods, a can opener, a first-aid kit, a flashlight, a battery-operation radio and extra batteries, a whistle, iodine tablets, personal hygiene items, a phone that does not rely on electricity, and child care supplies).

Those who live in an evacuation zone also need to:

- prepare a disaster plan (determine how to locate and communicate with family members, and make sure the home is properly insured); - know where to go (finding friends or family to stay with outside the evacuation zone, or report to a hurricane shelter); - keep a small "go bag" ready (which should include copies of important documents in a waterproof container; extra sets of keys; copies of credit and ATM cards; $50 to $100 in cash; up-to-date medication information and other essential personal items; first-aid kit; contact and meeting information for family members; child care supplies).

You can make sure you've got everything with this handy checklist.

Homeowners should secure their properties. Storm shutters are the best type of protection, but if you don't have those, board up windows with marine plywood. Additional clips or straps are recommended to secure roofs.

Bring in loose, lightweight objects such as lawn furniture, potted plants, garbage cans, garden tools and toys. Anchor objects that would be unsafe outside, such as gas grills or propane tanks. Close up and secure patio umbrellas, and secure retractable awnings.

Remove aerial antennas and satellite television dishes.

Trees and shrubs around your home should also be well-trimmed. Also remember to clear your gutters.
New York state offers all-hazard alerts through NY-ALERT (sign up at The city offers the latest information on or at 311.

Residents should also monitor the National Hurricane Center to stay aware of current weather conditions. NBC New York's weather page is continuously updated here. The website will always stay updated and carry live streams from the newsroom and weather center in emergencies.

State-by-state look at hurricane preparedness

Aug. 26, 2011, 3:16 p.m. EDT
Delaware County Daily Times
Here is a state-by-state glance on how Hurricane Irene is predicted to strike states all along the Eastern Seaboard as of Friday morning:
— Forecasters predict Irene to make landfall on Sunday somewhere between New Jersey and Cape Cod.
— Hurricane warnings have not been issued.
— Mandatory evacuations have not been ordered.
— Last hurricane to hit was Bob in 1991.
— Hurricane warning statewide
— Flood watch in effect
— Storm center to pass near the New Jersey/Delaware coast around 8 a.m. Sunday.
— Governor orders mandatory evacuation of coastal areas by 9 a.m. Saturday
— Last hurricane to hit was Floyd in 1999.
— State will open shelters in all three counties on Friday.
— Forecasters predict Irene to reach northern New England Sunday night.
— Heavy rain expected to start Saturday night. Potential for flooding rains and gusty winds.
— No evacuations planned since path uncertain.
— Lobstermen began moving their fishing gear farther offshore to avoid damage amid expectations of 30-foot seas.
— Hurricane warning for St. Mary's County and Chesapeake Bay near the mouth of the Potomac River.
— Tropical storm warning for Baltimore to Eastern Shore to D.C. suburbs.
— Flash flood watch in Baltimore-Washington metro region and southern Maryland.
— Mandatory evacuations ordered for Ocean City and coastal Worcester County.
— Governor declared emergency.
— Last hurricane to hit was Floyd in 1999.
— Assateague State Park closing until Wednesday; most state park campgrounds closed.
— Forecasters predict Irene to make landfall in southern New England on Sunday. They say they are unable to determine where it would hit land first because forecasts show that could be anywhere between New Jersey and Cape Cod.
— Hurricane warnings have not been issued in the state. A hurricane watch is in effect for the coast line to the mouth of the Merrimack River.
— Mandatory evacuations have not been ordered.
— Last hurricane to hit was Bob in 1991.
— Red Cross is pre-positioning emergency response vehicles, mobilizing trained disaster workers and preparing supplies in case they are needed.
— Boston's largest homeless shelter is also beginning to warn people living in the streets about the approaching hurricane. Pine Street Inn is also preparing to open its doors around the clock from Saturday afternoon through Monday, and it is strongly urging the homeless to come in for safety.
— Forecasters predict Irene to reach northern New England Sunday night.
— Heavy rain expected to start Saturday night. Potential for flooding rains and gusty winds.
— No evacuations planned since path uncertain.
— Governor directed state Emergency Operations Center to be opened.
— The Red Cross plans to open four shelters.
— Organizers of the annual Hampton Beach Talent Competition condensed the three-night schedule to two, telling competitors "it's one song for all the marbles."
— Forecasters predicted storm would pass over, or more likely, near New Jersey by midday Sunday.
— Hurricane warning in effect for coastal and southern counties.
— Mandatory evacuations ordered for nearly 1 million visitors and residents of Cape May County, coastal Atlantic County and Long Beach Island.
— Governor declared emergency for the state.
— New Jersey Transit trains to shut down Saturday.
— Last hurricane to directly hit the state was remnants of Hurricane Floyd, which caused major flooding inland in 1999.
— Atlantic City casinos shutting down for only the third time since gambling was legalized 33 years ago.
— Forecasters predict Irene to make landfall Sunday as a Category 1 storm between New Jersey and Cape Cod.
— The National Weather Service has issued a hurricane watch and a flood watch for Long Island, New York City and Rockland, Westchester and Putnam counties.
— New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered the evacuation of nursing homes and hospitals located in low-lying coastal areas, such as Battery Park City in lower Manhattan, Coney Island in Brooklyn and Far Rockaway in Queens, beginning Friday.
— The governor declared a state of emergency and the state's Office of Emergency Management has increased staffing in its underground bunker.
— Last hurricane to hit was Hurricane Gloria in 1985 on Long Island as a Category 2 storm with winds gusts of up to 100 mph. Since then, numerous remnants of hurricanes that have struck the state.
— The governor says New York City's public transit will halt around noon Saturday because of the hurricane.
— Forecasters predict Irene to make landfall Saturday morning east of Morehead City. Early storm surge prediction of up to 11 feet in Pamlico Sound and up to 9 feet along Outer Banks.
— Hurricane warning for entire coast.
— Governor and president declared emergency for the state.
— Evacuations ordered for all of the Outer Banks as well as inland Currituck County, Dare County, Hyde County and low-lying areas of Beaufort County. Voluntary evacuation requested for New Hanover County.
— Last hurricane to hit was Isabel in 2003.
— The Red Cross is opening eight shelters for people who need them. Nearly 50 other shelters ready to open as needed.
— Hurricane warnings are in effect for Philadelphia and Delaware counties, with tropical storm warnings in effect for three other suburban counties.
— Gov. Tom Corbett has declared state of emergency in advance of expected arrival of wind and rain.
— Although the exact track of the storm is uncertain, tropical storm conditions could begin as early as Saturday afternoon.
— Irene is expected to bring a half-foot or more of rain to already sodden communities. Before storms associated with Irene have arrived Philadelphia has already set an all-time single-month record for rain with more than 13 inches.
— The mayor says mass transit in suburban Philadelphia, will halt at 12:30 a.m. Sunday because of the hurricane.
— Mandatory evacuations have not been ordered.
— Last hurricane to hit was Floyd in 1999.
— Flood and flash flood watches are in effect for nine other counties in eastern Pennsylvania through Sunday.
— Forecasters predict Irene to make landfall on Sunday evening. Six-to-10 inches of rain expected to fall beginning as early as Saturday night.
— Gov. Lincoln Chafee has declared a state of emergency.
— Hurricane watch issued Friday for much of the state. Tropical storm watch for portions of two inland counties.
— No mandatory evacuations.
— Last hurricane to hit was Bob in 1991, which made landfall twice.
— Forecasters predict Irene to be about 140 miles east of Myrtle Beach late Friday night.
— Tropical storm warnings issued from Edisto Island north to North Carolina state line.
— No mandatory evacuations ordered.
— Last hurricane to hit was Charley in 2004.
— Downtown Charleston reported 49 mph wind gust just before noon Friday.
— Wind gusts of up to and as much as of rain expected around Myrtle Beach.
— About 3,500 customers without power along coast late Friday morning as outer bands of storm approach.
— Forecasters predict Irene to reach northern New England Sunday night.
— Heavy rain expected to start Saturday night. Potential for flooding rains and gusty winds.
— No evacuations planned since path uncertain.
— Parts of the state hard-hit by Memorial Day weekend flash flooding were bracing for another round.
— Forecasters predict Irene to make landfall at 2 a.m. Sunday.
— Hurricane watch for coast.
— Mandatory evacuations ordered for the Sandbridge section of Virginia Beach, a barrier island dotted with rentals, Accomack on the Eastern Shore, and for low-lying areas of Norfolk and Hampton.
— Governor declared emergency.
— Last hurricane to hit the state was Hurricane Isabel in 2003.
— The cities of Norfolk, Virginia beach and Hampton are opening shelters on Friday.
— The Navy ordered the Second Fleet out to sea to escape the storm.
— Tropical storm warning
— No mandatory evacuations ordered.
— Last hurricane to hit was Hazel in 1954.
— Approach of hurricane forced postponement of Sunday's dedication of Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial
— Impending storm prompts Walter Reed Army Medical Center to accelerate transfer of last remaining patients to new facility in Bethesda, Md.

No comments: