Online Auto Insurance: Emergency Preparedness Study Should Spark Coverage Reevaluation

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In light of a study showing most Americans are overconfident in their security after an emergency, is recommending auto owners review their policies to see if they are covered for such incidents.

More than half of American families have no emergency preparedness plan for surviving a natural disaster or terrorist attack, according to a survey released this week by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

The survey paints an alarming picture of what could happen in the event of a storm of greater destructiveness than Tropical Storm Irene, which struck the U.S. late last month. It also reveals a lack of readiness on the part of many Americans who could face medical emergencies or have to file damage claims on their cheap car insurance or homeowner policies in the wake of such an event.

The Insurance Information Institute (III) said Irene should have served as “a wake-up” call for millions of residents along the East Coast, and another hurricane may strike in the next few months.

“Those who take the time to prepare for a disaster are in the best position to survive a catastrophe and recover as quickly as possible,” Jeanne Salvatore, senior vice president at III, said in a statement issued this week.

Irene swept across the East Coast late last month, killing more than 40 people and inflicting losses that could climb as high as $5 billion, the III has stated.

Irene started off as a hurricane—the first in a season that began in June and lasts through November. And the 2011 hurricane season is expected to be more active than usual, according to III.

Safety experts and insurance industry officials say proper preparation can be crucial to surviving—and minimizing losses from—natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises residents of hurricane-prone regions to expect to have to evacuate and to review and stick to emergency plans when disaster strikes.


While the percentage of families nationwide who lack preparedness plans has decreased from nearly two-thirds in 2003, 51 percent of families still lack a plan, according to the Columbia survey of 1,000 adult phone respondents. And 30 percent are missing key items such as flashlights, water and designated areas for relatives to meet up. advises residents to check their policies to see if they are protected by comprehensive coverage. This is the only type of car insurance that protects against weather-related damages, and it is not required by law in any state.

In places like North Carolina, for example, about 3 in 10 policies did not include comprehensive coverage in 2009, the most recent year for which data is available.

To learn more about this and other insurance issues, readers can go to where they will find informative resource pages and a rate-comparison generator that can help users quickly evaluate their coverage options.


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Gregor McGavin
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