Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon held a press on Thursday, Aug. 28 to discuss the preparations made by the Department of Insurance (DOI) in the event the state is impacted by Gustav as a major hurricane. The storm is expected to hit the Gulf Coast as early as Monday, Sept.1. Reports show the storm has caused damage, injury and death as it makes its way from Domican Republic and Haiti to the Gulf region.
Commissioner Donelon says the DOI implemented its Continuity of Operations plan (COOP) on Tuesday (Aug.26). The COOP plan ensures that the DOI will continue to function with minimal interruptions in the event of a disaster.
Donelon adds that all divisions of the DOI have met with their staff and each division has a plan ready to implement if Gustav strikes. Preparations made by DOI staff include the following:
· Insurance Company Emergency Adjuster Registration program prepared in case claims adjusters need to be sent to disaster areas; online registration ready.
· Call center ready to be activated by Property & Casualty Consumer Affairs Division; phone scripts prepared.
· Travel teams assigned and ready for dispatch to Disaster Recovery Centers statewide.
· All insurance company contact information updated and ready to distribute to public and for call center staff.
· Packets of consumer information (complaint forms, brochures, etc.) assembled.
· Employee Emergency Response System ready to instruct staff in case of office closure; all staff emergency communications equipment ready.
· Remote site(s) for meeting with insurance industry selected (England Air Park – Alexandria, Louisiana; Atlanta, Dallas, Houston or Memphis).
· Remote site for DOI operations at England Air Park in Alexandria ready in the event Baton Rouge offices rendered uninhabitable.
· Emergency Insurance Rules prepared.
· Office supplies stocked and computer back up servers ready at remote locations.
Donelon says following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, he and the staff of the DOI encountered new situations that have them well prepared for Gustav. “The property destruction caused by those storms forced us to get creative and think of innovative plans for working with consumers and the insurance industry,” he says. “I will continually meet with our staff to ensure the continuity of operations of this department if this or any other hurricane impacts our state.”
Donelon also offers the following tips for consumers to prepare for an approaching storm:
· Make a record of your personal property. Take an itemized inventory of all furnishings, clothing and valuables to help your adjuster in case of a claim. List model and serial numbers and attach sales receipts if possible. It is also a good idea to take pictures and/or make a video log of each room and the exterior of your home.
· Protect your insurance policies and other important documents. Make sure you keep copies of your policies and your inventory list in a secure place like a safety deposit box, or store them in a watertight box you can take with you in case of an evacuation. Make sure to include with your records the name of the agent who wrote your policy. Let family members or trusted friends know where to find your records in case you are unable to retrieve them after the storm.
· Plan for the worst. Make a plan of action in case a storm hits. Designate two meeting places for your family: a location in your home in case of flash flooding or other immediate disaster, and a location outside your neighborhood in case you cannot return home. Designate an uncluttered, windowless area in a lower level of your home as a shelter, and conduct tornado drills there each season. Have an out-of-state contact that everyone should “check-in with” in case of separation during a storm. It is often easier to call out-of-state during a disaster.
Important Planning Steps:
· Post emergency telephone numbers.
· Show responsible family members how and when to shut off water, gas and electricity at main switches.
· Make sure all battery-operated appliances are in working order and keep back-up radios and flashlights on hand.
· Make emergency arrangements for your pets. Since most shelters will not take pets, you should call your vet or local Humane Society to find out where you can take your pets in case of an evacuation.
There are six basics you should stock in your home to prepare for the worst:
1. Water – store at least one gallon of water per person per day. You should get a three-day supply of water for each person in your household.
2. Food – store at least a three-day supply of nonperishable food items. Select foods that require no refrigeration, no preparation, no cooking and little or no water. Also, make sure the items are compact and lightweight.
3. First Aid Kit – assemble first aid kits for your home and car that include sterile bandages and pads, scissors and sewing kit, soap, antiseptic and nonprescription drugs.
4. Tools and Supplies – make sure you have a flashlight and battery operated radio with extra batteries, cash or travelers checks with change, and sanitation items like personal hygiene supplies and disinfectant.
5. Clothing and Bedding – pack at least one complete change of clothing and sturdy footwear per person. Include blankets or sleeping bags for bedding.
6. Special Items – remember family members with special needs, such as infants and elderly or disabled persons. Remember to pack any special diet foods and pet foods, as well as any prescription medication. Include books and games to pass the time.
7. Protect important personal items such as family photos, etc.
Source: Louisiana Department of Insurance
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