The Hartford Advises Safeguards to Homes, Businesses as Dennis Bears Down on Gulf Coast

July 8, 2005

The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. is cautioning homeowners and business owners to take precautionary steps to prevent injury and minimize potential damage from Hurricane Dennis, which is bearing down on the U.S. Gulf Coast area.

Robert Wilkey, The Hartford’s assistant vice president of catastrophe claim management, said the personal safety of customers is the primary concern and urges residents of the affected areas to follow safety directives issued by public authorities.

The Hartford has a catastrophe claim team on standby ready to move quickly into the damaged areas to begin processing claims, if necessary. Safety and claim information is also available by clicking the Catastrophe Information Center link on

The Web site also provides advice to prepare for and deal with the impact of a catastrophic event. Additionally, the company’s representatives at its toll-free, 24-hour claim number are prepared for additional customer calls resulting from the storm. Customers can report damages to 1-800-243-5860, any time of the day or night.

For those in the path of the storms, Wilkey advises the following safety precautions:

* Store outdoor furniture or signage inside your home or business. When storm winds blow, these items become flying missiles;
* Close storm shutters over windows. If you do not have storm shutters, you may want to install plywood or place masking tape over windows to minimize flying glass;
* Secure sheds and carports. Sheds, carports, barns, and other unstable structures may be blown down in strong winds;
* Park your vehicle in a garage, if possible, rather than a carport. If no
garage is available, park it away from trees whose falling branches may cause damage;
* Keep tree branches away from your home or business. Make trees more wind resistant by removing diseased and damaged limbs;
* Be sure you have an emergency supply of food and water, as well as a first aid kit, a fully charged fire extinguisher, flashlights with fresh
batteries, a portable radio with fresh batteries, necessary items for infants or disabled family members, warm clothing, a cellular phone, if available, and emergency phone numbers;
* Fill your car with gas;
* Heed evacuation notices from public authorities, and make certain you know the evacuation route. If evacuation is not possible or advised, go to an established shelter or a sheltered location;
* Secure important documents, such as insurance policies, in a safe,
accessible place. Keep personal identification with you as it will be
needed to receive a claim check for insurance coverage, if needed; and
* If you are evacuated, unplug all appliances before leaving your residence and shut off electricity, gas and water to your home or
business to help mitigate damages. Lock windows and doors.

In the aftermath of the storm, Wilkey cautioned customers returning to their homes and businesses to follow these guidelines to prevent further injuries and damage:

* Follow any safety directives issued by public authorities;
* Cover all damaged openings with heavy plastic until your insurance claim adjuster arrives;
* Do not touch any downed or loose wires;
* Do not attempt to remove branches or trees that have fallen on your home or business;
* If you smell gas, get out of the premises immediately; do not attempt to find or fix the problem; and
* Do not cook on a gas or charcoal grill inside your home.

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