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Hurricane Preparedness

New England is known for its changing seasons which bring both beautiful foliage and weather destruction. In any corner of the world a natural disaster, severe weather event, or emergency can strike at any time, that’s why it’s imperative for consumers to be prepared—especially during hurricane season.  According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the year 2020 was record breaking for natural disasters.

On Friday, August 20th, Governor Charles D. Baker urged Massachusetts residents to prepare for Hurricane Henri, which is expected to affect much of the Commonwealth beginning Saturday night into Monday, including the potential for strong winds, heavy rain, flooding and power outages. Governor Baker also today activated the Massachusetts National Guard under state active duty to fulfill highwater rescue, debris clearing and public safety support from impacted communities.

Storm preparedness does not stop with bringing in outdoor furniture or boarding up windows; ensuring your homeowner insurance policy covers hurricane damage is a great first step. The below tips and information provided by the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation and the Division of Insurance (DOI) may assist you with your preparedness plan.

Minimize damage before the storm strikes. Evaluate your property and trim foliage back from your house and away from power lines in addition to clearing gutters and downspouts of debris. This can reduce the destruction caused by downed trees or falling limbs. If your home has a chimney, make sure it is clean and in good working order. Simple precautions such as removing or bolting down outdoor furniture or other movable objects will also contain the amount of damage caused to the exterior of your home.

Review your insurance policy. Check what your policy covers to see if you have adequate coverage, including whether you have or need flood insurance. This also includes knowing whether you can hire someone to make emergency repairs, whether your insurer will reimburse you for repairs you make yourself, or if your policy will pay for expenses if you are required to bring homes up to the current building code. If you’re not sure you have enough coverage, talk to your agent or insurance company.

Take inventory of property. Record and/or photograph your personal property including model numbers, serial numbers and purchase information. Keep copies, along with copies of your insurance policy in a safe location other than your home. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) offers a helpful home inventory checklist.

Make necessary insurance claims. If your property is damaged by a hurricane these steps may assist you with the claim process and fulfillment:

  • Notify your insurance company’s claim department as soon as damage is visible. If you work with an independent agency, notify him/her of your claim as well.
  • Safely note, photograph or record potential destruction and losses. Consider protecting and securing property that requires repair and salvage what you can.
  • Save any receipts for purchases of restoration equipment or replacement of essential items.
  • Check your policy for Loss and Use coverage if temporary housing is needed; these expenses may be covered up to a maximum amount. If you are unsure of coverage make sure you are saving all of these transaction receipts as well.
  • Be prepared to backup any claims with written estimates from reputable service providers.

Your home is your most valuable asset. The DOI’s online resource ‘Understanding Home Insurance’ outlines the need for coverage, basic coverages available, personal liability and much more. For more information about insurance in the Commonwealth, you may contact the DOI’s Consumer Services Unit at (617) 521-7777 or visit the www.mass.gov/doi.

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