Scott Spencer, senior vice president of Chubb Personal Insurance, said homeowner's policies usually do not cover loss due to flooding, but coverage can be purchased from the federal government. Homeowners can ask their agents about the details or contact the National Flood Insurance Program at 1-800-427-4661.
He said it is important to review your homeowners policy with your agent or broker so you understand the amount you will receive in the event of a covered loss, and whether it will be adequate to rebuild your home.
He also advised homeowners to know the amount of a deductible and any special provisions in the policy such as wind exclusions. And include your insurance company's toll free claim number and insurance agent's phone number in your emergency evacuation kit.
"Know your responsibilities, such as installing shutters, making arrangements to have your home secured if you are away, and verifying that emergency generators and sump pumps are functioning," Spencer said.
Spry cautions that homeowners and business owners should never fully rely on an insurance policy.
"The main point is that these are only insurance policies," she said. "Treat your property and business as if you had no insurance. Insurance is not the 'end all, be all' to save a business."
4. Assess Your House for Vulnerabilities
Rochman advises homeowners to check for potential problem areas of a house in case of a disaster.
"Take a walk around outside, look at old or damaged trees that are overhanging or can fall on your roof. And trim your trees," she said.
You should also make sure the roof does not have holes or is missing shingles. To safeguard against strong winds, you may have to nail down new shingles.
"Look at lawn furniture, fountains, play equipment that could become projectiles and slam into your house with the wind," he said.
Some fix-it tasks can be completed over a weekend, such as reinforcing a garage door, vents and a gable, or triangular, roof, so water does not leak in. Those living in low lying areas where coastal storms surge should move electronic devices off the ground floor and put heavy furniture on blocks to prevent damage from flooding. Also, homeowners should roll up rugs.
"You can't pick up carpet but you can pick up rugs which become sponges if wet," she said.
Spencer also advises that you look around your neighborhood for vulnerabilites.
"Given the amount of home foreclosures since the economic downturn, homeowners should look around their neighborhoods for vacant homes that could pose a threat in a storm due to dead tree limbs or other debris around the property," Spencer said.
If a hurricane or tropical storm approaches, homeowners should notify the lender or bank that has taken ownership of the foreclosed property, as well as town officials, of concerns regarding foreclosed homes, he said.
5. Take Video or Photos for a Home Inventory
For insurance purposes and for your own personal keepsake in case of a disaster, Rochman said you should have a home inventory or a photographic record.
"Walk around with a video or still camera and take pictures of everything," she said. While you are doing that, you can consider which few items to bring in case of an evacuation.
6. Consider Important Supplies
FEMA recommends people should have at least a three-day supply of water and you should store at least one gallon of water per person per day. Rochmann recommends at least a week's supply of water.