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TIME TO GET READY FOR STORM SEASON
April 22, 2019
At the basic level, insurance is about managing your risks and getting ready for the unexpected. That’s why, as Oklahoma insurance commissioner, I’m kicking off a new column called Get Ready. There are so many things in life to prepare for – from tornadoes to retirement – and insurance plays a vital role in all of those events.
Because it’s spring time, we’ll first focus on storm season, and what we can all do to get ready for tornadoes and severe weather. Unpredictable weather in Oklahoma is our way of life, but we don’t have to be a victim to severe storms. Preparing before the sirens sound is the best way to protect your family and your property. The following tips will help you get ready.
Create a Home Inventory
It may seem hard at first to record information about everything you have in your house, but don’t let that stop you. The information in your home inventory can make an insurance claim settlement faster and easier.
There are many ways to create a home inventory from high-tech apps to basic pen-and-paper. You can find a free smartphone app or a printable home inventory list at oid.ok.gov/GetReady to get started. To get started, include as much identifying information – like serial numbers, brand name, model number and purchase date – as possible. You will also want to take photos or video of your items.
Once you’ve created your inventory, store the information in the cloud. If using a paper record, keep your home inventory in a safety deposit box or another safe place outside your home.
Collect and Review Your Insurance Information
Be sure you have the right homeowners or renters coverage. That means making sure you know what your policy will and won’t cover. A standard homeowners and renters insurance policy doesn't protect your home or belongings from damage associated with floods, earthquakes or sewer and drain backup. If you have questions about your policy or want extra coverage, call your insurance agent.
Also, most wind and hail deductibles are set to a percentage of the dwelling amount. For example, 1% of $100,000 home is $1,000, and 1% of a $200,000 house is $2,000. Be sure that your home is not over insured, or you could be paying a higher deductible. Talk with your agent to get the deductible amount that will work for you.
After you’ve squared away your coverage, store electronic copies of your insurance policies with your home inventory. Keep paper files in a safety deposit box or another safe location not in your home. Make sure to have a copy of your policy declarations page listing all of your coverages, as well as your insurance cards.
Finally, collect the 24-hour contact information for your insurance company. Make a list that includes your policy numbers, insurance agent's phone numbers, website addresses and mailing addresses. It is a good idea to store this information – and your home inventory – in a waterproof, fireproof box or safe. If you have a storm shelter or safe room, keep this information in there.
After the Storm
Navigating the insurance process can be challenging, but knowing you are properly prepared will give you the peace of mind to get through Oklahoma’s storm season. If you need help preparing for what’s to come or have any questions, contact the Oklahoma Insurance Department at 800-522-0071 or visit our website at oid.ok.gov.
About the Oklahoma Insurance Department
The Oklahoma Insurance Department, an agency of the State of Oklahoma, is responsible for the education and protection of the insurance-buying public and for oversight of the insurance industry in the state.
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