Sometimes when people think of emergency or disaster preparedness, they think it applies to someone else. If you live in California, you have to worry about earthquakes. If you live near the Gulf Coast, you have to contend with hurricanes. People in the northern states confront snowstorms year after year.
Well, if you’re a homeowner in Arizona you have to prepare for monsoons (we have had a ton of rain this monsoon season), flooding, and dust storms. Taking steps in case of any type of emergency means being proactive, including having the right home insurance policy.
Just like a business, your personal papers are important to your home operation. At the Ready.gov website provided by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Administration), they offer tips on what you need to do to prepare.
One way to plan is to have copies of all your important documents, which are then stored in a secure place. Experts suggest your secure place should be far enough away in case of widespread disaster, yet close enough for quick access.
One suggestion is to have two separate safe and secure locations for storing your papers: a safe deposit box containing items such as:
- Birth Certificates
- Marriage Certificates
- Titles to Automobiles
- Household Inventory
- Bonds and Stock Certificates
- Important Contracts
In addition, you should have a secure, yet active file, containing items such as:
- Tax Receipts
- Unpaid Bills
- Employment Records
- Health Benefit Information
- Credit Card Information
- Insurance Policies
- Medical Records
- Inventory of Safe Deposit Box (and key)
Another important part of your records should be a complete, up-to-date list of emergency contacts, including name, phone numbers, and email addresses. For more information and a complete list of items to store, check out this publication on USA.com.
An emergency kit contains basic household items you will need in the event of an emergency. Be sure to assemble it well in advance and store it safely somewhere your entire family knows about, as you may have to evacuate without much notice.
Experts recommend having enough non-perishable food and water to last at least 72 hours. In addition, you should include:
- Battery-operated radio
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- First-aid kit
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket
- Fully-charged cell phone
- Paper and pencil
- Sturdy shoes and clothing
For a complete checklist from FEMA, click here.
Finally, be sure you have the right home insurance in case of an emergency. In the 2012 post, “Do You Have Enough Insurance to Cover Rebuilding Costs After a Disaster?”, the Small Business Administration suggests taking steps to protect your small business. We’ve adapted them for home use:
- Check Your Insurance Coverage. Contact your insurance agent to find out if your policy is adequate for your needs. Tailor your polity to the specific needs of an Arizona home. Remember to review and update it often. The home you bought even just five years ago could cost more to rebuild today. CBSNewswatch.com article reports, “Nearly 6 of 10 American houses are underinsured, with most insurance policies having only enough insurance to pay about 80 percent of the costs to replace or rebuild their homes, according to property data provider MSB”.
- Ask questions. Make sure you understand your policy limits, the deductible, and what is actually covered.
- Consider emergency riders. The U.S. Geological Survey reports that floods are the leading cause of natural disaster property losses. Most homeowners insurance policies don’t cover flood losses. Make sure to talk with your insurance agent about the types of disaster prevalent in Arizona and how to obtain coverage.
- Take inventory. Inventory your personal items before disaster strikes. Record the price and estimated replacement cost. Keep receipts, take photos and video of your property, and store this information at a secure location.
With a little forethought and preparation, you can prepare yourself and your home for any emergency. Contact your local insurance agent to make sure you have the coverages on your policy.