As Hurricane Sandy approaches the East Coast of the United States, residents in many areas are bracing for the potential issues the storm may bring.
As of Friday morning, the Category 1 storm carried sustained winds of roughly 80 miles per hour, with the National Hurricane Center predicting it will make official landfall Tuesday morning near New Jersey.
Residents Urged to Take Precautions
With the storm set to bring heavy rains and damaging winds, officials are urging people in warning areas to take immediate steps to protect themselves and their property.
“Even if Hurricane Sandy ultimately moves away from land or downgrades, it is a good idea to take precautionary measures to prevent further damage to vulnerable property and keep out of harm’s way,” said Chris Hackett, director of personal lines policy for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.
Here are some steps to take before a storm hits.
• Review insurance policies and store contact information – One of the first steps urged by the PCIAA is for consumers to review their insurance policies. This can help ensure you know exactly what your policies cover. In addition, it represents a chance to copy down your agent’s contact number so you can call them later. If the power is out you may not be able to look up that information online.
• Safeguard property – You should also take steps to protect your property, such as moving all outdoor furniture inside and making sure doorways and windows are secured and shuttered. Preventative steps can help prevent a home repair that requires emergency funds, even if insurance eventually covers it.
• Inventory belongings – It may also be prudent to take an inventory of your current belongings, complete with pictures and receipts, if possible. While it may seem excessive, this kind of documentation can make the insurance claim process easier after a storm. That can help speed your claim along and help you get back on your feet.
• Watch for evacuation orders – As the storm approaches, look for local evacuation warnings and prepare. Gather up an emergency kit with any medicines, personal items, important paperwork and other necessities. That way you will be ready to go if the need arises.
• Keep receipts – If you are affected by the storm, keep all receipts for hotels, meals or temporary repairs. Most property insurance policies have an allowance for Additional Living Expenses, which pays for food and lodging if a disaster makes your home unlivable.
Damage Totals Could Be Severe
While the storm’s final track is still uncertain, forecasters say the damage from the storm could be extremely severe.
Risk analysts told Reuters that Sandy has the potential to create billions of dollars in damages, and could be even worse than 2011’s Hurricane Irene. That storm already ranks among the most damaging hurricanes ever to hit the U.S.