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What to do now to protect your home before a natural disaster

While nothing can truly prepare you for what so many have gone through, you can take action now to protect your valuables and home with insurance. This way, if disaster strikes, you can quickly act to file a claim and get the money you need to begin rebuilding your home and your life.

Take these simple actions right now. Less than an hour of effort today can help you feel less alone when dealing with the aftermath of a natural disaster.

Make sure you have the right insurance coverage

Homeowners insurance generally covers these types of damage caused by hurricanes, tornadoes, and snowstorms:

  • Fire and smoke
  • Windstorms
  • Hail
  • Lightning
  • Falling objects (such as tree branches)
  • The weight of ice, snow, and sleet, as well as the freezing of plumbing

However, policies don’t cover earthquakes and flooding. Only insurers in Florida are required to provide sinkhole coverage as part of a standard policy. Depending on where you live and which natural disasters are more likely to occur in your area, you may need to add coverage to your policy.

Carefully review your existing policy and talk to your insurance provider about what you might need to add. While additional coverage costs more, it can be well worth it if the odds of an earthquake or flooding in your area are high.

Save enough money to cover the deductible

If you opted for a higher deductible to lower the cost of your insurance premiums, you’re not alone. But you can avoid going into debt should you need to file a claim by saving enough cash to cover your full deductible.

Keep this money in a savings account separate from the checking account you use to pay for monthly expenses. This way, it’s harder to be tempted to spend it for non-emergencies, but the money is easily available when you need it.

Many online banks have easy-to-use websites and offer higher interest rates than brick-and-mortar banks.

You might choose to forgo some insurance coverage (i.e., for flooding) to save money on your policy as well. Beef up your emergency savings, because you’ll want the money available if you need to pay for repairs after damage to your home that your policy doesn’t cover.

Whatever you do, just be aware of everything your policy covers so you’re not caught by surprise if a natural disaster occurs.

Photograph everything and secure important documents

Take pictures of your home, car, boat, and any other insured property. Save these pictures, along with scanned copies of other important documents (like the deed to your home, or receipts for major purchases), to a password-protected account on the cloud.

Don’t rely only on external hard drives to store copies of these important files! They can also be damaged or lost during a natural disaster.

Share your important documents with a trusted person

Give a trusted friend or family member access to your documents and photos that are saved to the cloud. Ideally this person will live in a different city, so they won’t be simultaneously affected by the same natural disaster that damaged your home.

This way, while you deal with the aftermath, you know that you or someone you trust will be able to access all of these important documents. Their help might be necessary when filing an insurance claim