It looks like 2013’s hurricane season is shaping up to be a doozie.
The National Weather Service predicts 16 named storms, including nine hurricanes. We’ve already had Tropical Storm Andrea (at the start of June), though the Atlantic season’s first named storm usually doesn’t happened until well into July.
Property and casualty insurance professionals all along the coastal areas are gearing up by helping their clients prepare for the worst. They’re offering travel insurance, updating homeowners’ policies and giving much-needed advice about how to get ready. If you’re in the insurance business, you’ll need to be able to answer the question asked again and again: “What will I do if a storm hits?”
Here are seven tips agents are giving clients this year:
- Designate a “safe room” that is protected from storm surges. In it, stock non-perishable emergency supplies and a first-aid kit. If your home doesn’t have such a room, find a community shelter that can serve as a safe place.
- Have a family plan in place. Plan escape routes and meeting places. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes and your usual lines of communication may be down. Make sure everyone knows where to go. Make sure someone is responsible for getting the pets there, as well.
- Keep emergency numbers handy and make sure your children know how to use them. 9-1-1 is obvious, but don’t forget the utilities company, the Red Cross and family contacts.
- Create a “supply kit” that you can use if the power is out for a long time and you aren’t able to evacuate. You kit should include drinking water, canned food (and a can opener, of course!), blankets, rain gear, a battery-operated radio, s flashlight, batteries, and cash and important documents stored in a waterproof container. FEMA suggests keeping enough items to last for 72 hours for all members of your family. Additional items to include in your kit can be found here.
- Make sure you know whether or not your home is in a flood zone. Anyone near rivers or beaches that could overflow should have flood insurance. They should also have more detailed preparations in place.
- Have a designated person to contact. This is usually one family member or close friend who doesn’t leave near you but who also doesn’t live more than a few miles away. This contact person should agree to be the person anyone separated from your family goes to when the family is separated.
- Consider travel insurance. Even people who don’t live in coastal areas may have to be ready for these storms. After all, hurricane season is also travel season, so flight cancellations and disrupted vacations could be in the forecast. This is why agents already offering auto, health, life or home insurance often also offer travel insurance. Travelers can probably get a plan from the agent they already know and trust. That said, travel insurance rarely covers all travel costs unless the traveler has an expensive “cancel for any reason” policy. Not all travel insurance covers weather-related natural disasters. A licensed, certified insurance agent should be able to help travelers find a policy that’s’ right for them.