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Hurricane Season officially began in June but this week is Hurricane Preparedness Week in Massachusetts.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted a 70% chance of having 10 to 16 named storms, with five to nine possibly developing into hurricanes. That’s why the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation and the Division of Insurance recommend preparing in advance to minimize the circumstances that can lead to claims from hurricanes.

Hurricane 

Preparing your home:

Review your insurance plan. Look into what your wind deductibles are and whether you have flood insurance.

Make sure your trees are trimmed back from your house and away from power lines.

Ensure gutters and downspouts are secure and clear of debris.

Inspect the underside of the roof for signs of leaks.

Clear your yard and move furniture, grills, and toys under shelter. These items may blow around in high winds.

Have your basic disaster supply kit, including a wrench or pliers to turn off utilities, stocked and in an easily accessible location.

Keep flashlights handy. They are safer than burning candles.

Pre-cut and pre-drill plywood for windows.

 

Protecting your vehicle:

Park your car in the garage, if possible. If you don’t have a garage, try to park your car away from trees and on high ground.

Have a mechanic check your vehicle to make sure all systems are running properly.

Make sure tires have adequate tread and the recommended air pressure.

Check your spare tire and make sure it, the jack, and lug wrench are all stored in the trunk. Keep jumper cables, a cell phone, flashlights, and rain gear handy.

Make sure your wiper blades are in good working order.

Maintain at least a half tank of gasoline.

Drive cautiously. Roads and bridges may be flooded.

 

Filing insurance claims:

Call your insurance company’s claims reporting number as soon as possible.

If you work with an independent insurance agent, notify him or her of your claim as well.

Protect and secure your damaged property to the extent you can to prevent further damage and salvage what you can.

Note and photograph all damage and losses. This will assist in settling claims.

If temporary housing is necessary, check your policy for Loss of Use coverage. Your policy may cover such expenses up to a stated amount.

Be sure everything is considered in the claim. Back-up your claim with written estimates.

Consumers with questions about their insurance coverage can call the Division’s Consumer Services Unit at (617) 521-7777. The Division’s website at www.mass.gov/doi also provides valuable information regarding all lines of insurance, including auto and homeowners.

 

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency also has additional resources and safety tips for hurricane preparedness on its website.

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s vehicular and customized wheelchair Lemon Laws and Arbitration Programs, Data Breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Programs and the MA Do Not Call Registry.

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