One Year After Hurricane Rita Texas Insurers Offer Advice

September 22, 2006

As we approach the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Rita’s visit to Texas, residents along the Gulf Coast of Texas can and have learned a lot about the devastating effects of a hurricane, an insurance industry spokeswoman said.

In Texas, Rita caused $1.9 billion in insured residential and commercial losses from 150,000 claims. Insured losses to autos reached $84 million.

Although we’ve been lucky so far this year, last year’s hurricanes showed how important it is to be prepared. Insurers want to remind those in disaster prone areas to take some simple steps to help prevent damage to property and even loss of life, according to Sandra Helin, public affairs director of Southwestern Insurance Information Service, an industry trade group.

“Make your home stronger. As we saw during Hurricane Rita, a lot of people can be displaced during a hurricane. We want those affected by storms to be able to rebuild their homes and put their lives back together as quickly as possible,” Helin added.

“By fortifying your home to the standards of the Texas Windstorm Building Code, you can significantly reduce damage or even total loss of your home. With effective wind resistant construction, you will have a stronger structure that will protect your family and reduce damage,” she said. “Contact your insurance agent for more information about obtaining or maintaining windstorm insurance coverage when you build, remodel, add-on, repair or re-roof a structure.”

“Review your insurance policy to be certain adequate coverage is provided. If questions arise, talk to your insurance agent,” she said. “It is highly recommended that you check your policy to make sure you have enough coverage to cover the total amount that it would cost to rebuild your home and that you document your belongings so that everything can be replaced.”

“There are things you can do now that will make things easier if you should ever have to submit a claim,” she said. “Take an inventory of the possessions in your home. Photos or video recordings of these items are very helpful to claim adjusters if damage occurs. Keep a copy of your inventory, as well as your insurance policy, in a safe place away from your home.”

“Flooding is not typically covered by the standard Texas homeowners insurance policy,” Helin explained. “Insurance agents can help you find flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program. In addition, a flood insurance policy takes 30 days to become effective after it is purchased. Homeowners should purchase this well in advance of the season.”

Helin said business owners should follow the same precautions as well as a few others. “Company files should be stored offline and digital photos should be taken of all equipment such as computers and office furniture,” she noted. “Important documents should be scanned and stored in a safe location.”

Prior to hurricane season not later, is the time to begin thinking about taking action which will reduce losses and make claim filing easier,” she concluded. Rita was an unfortunate reminder of these important lessons.

Source: SIIS

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