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Supplies for Survival: What Not to Take

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One important element of disaster preparation is determining if you have insurance coverage for most potential emergencies. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, many people believe their homeowners insurance provides coverage for a wide range of disasters. That may be incorrect, however. It's important for homeowners to assess their insurance situation and make changes as needed.

Disaster Preparation - Getting Flood and Earthquake Coverage

Homeowners insurance policies do not cover damage caused by floods or by earthquakes. When it comes to floods, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has designated areas that are flood plains throughout the country, relying on historical data, and FEMA recommends flood insurance for people who live in these flood plains. Lenders can often make it a requirement for people in a flood plain to carry flood insurance in order to get a mortgage loan approved. Flood insurance, which is not expensive, is available through the National Flood Insurance Program, and even homeowners who are not in flood plains are urged to consider protection. In order to be covered for damage by earthquakes, most states sell separate earthquake policies. Even in California, which has more earthquake policies than all other states combined, only 12 percent of residents have separate earthquake policies, according to the NAIC.

Disaster Preparation - Insurance Tips

  • Home inventory. The NAIC urges homeowners to compile an inventory of all property. Pictures or a video of property in the house on a room-by-room basis is a great way to document what you have. If you have the sales receipts, credit card statements or canceled checks, keep those to establish the value of your belongings. Include the model and serial numbers of items as part of your home inventory.
  • Keep copies of policies. Put your insurance policies and home inventory in a safe place such as a waterproof, fireproof lockbox. Another good idea is a bank deposit box or sending copies of that information to friends or relatives out of town to keep.
  • Update insurance coverage. Read your insurance policies so you know what is covered and what is not. If your coverage pays actual value, ask about a cost-replacement policy. The insurance cost will increase, but in a disaster, the cost replacement ensures that you will get enough to replace damaged items. Actual value only pays what an item is currently worth, after depreciation, and not what it would cost to replace it. Make sure the value of your homeowners policy increases regularly to keep up with the value of your home.
  • Get floater policies if necessary. Most homeowners policies pay out a limited amount for jewelry, antiques and collectibles. However, you can get those items appraised and insured under a rider to your homeowners policy.

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