Are You Ready for Hurricane Season?

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Mercury Insurance offers tips to prepare your family and home before, during and after a storm

The Atlantic hurricane forecast recently announced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) should serve as a warning to residents along the Eastern Seaboard and Gulf of Mexico. The prediction is for an “above-normal” hurricane season with 11 to 17 named storms in the Atlantic basin, up to nine of which could become hurricanes with four major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5). Mercury Insurance (NYSE: MCY) is urging Americans to take precautions and prepare themselves, their families and property in advance of the Atlantic hurricane season (June 1 until November 30).

“Now is the time for residents on the East Coast and Gulf of Mexico to make a plan and begin preparations before a tropical storm or hurricane threatens residents and properties,” says Randy Petro, Mercury’s chief claims officer. “Discuss with your family where to go, what to pack and how to get your home ready to weather the storm. This way, you’ll be prepared if a hurricane is heading your way and officials instruct you to evacuate. You should also know how to get alerts about the status of these storms.”

Here are a few things you can do to prepare for a hurricane.

  • Stock an emergency kit. If you are unable to stay with family or friends out of town, or you were unable to evacuate, be sure to keep the following items handy:
  • A three-day supply of water (one gallon per person), non-perishable food items and pet food, if applicable;
  • A battery-powered or hand-crank radio (and extra batteries);
  • A flashlight;
  • A first aid kit;
  • A whistle to signal for help;
  • A can opener;
  • Blankets;
  • Pliers or a wrench to turn off utilities;
  • $200 in cash in small bills, as power may be out, making ATMs, debit and credit cards unusable; and
  • Prescriptions for you and your pets.
  • Create an emergency plan. Know where family members will meet if instructed to evacuate, as well as several options to get out of the city in case routes are blocked. Establish a meeting point ahead of time. Staying with friends or family who live outside of the local area is a good option, but you should also research hotels and shelters.
  • Be aware of flood zones in your area. Hurricanes can cause high winds, flying debris and flash flooding. Get out of town and go to higher ground. If your home is located in a flood zone and you can’t leave before the storm, remain indoors and get to the highest level possible.
  • Reinforce your home. Close shutters or use plywood to board up windows and doors. Secure outdoor furniture, potted plants and other items that could become projectiles during the storm.
  • Store important documents in a safe place. This includes copies of insurance policies, birth certificates, social security cards, important financial documents, passports and other identification, which should be stored in a waterproof container. Scan a set of these documents and bring them with you on flash drive, or upload them to a cloud based digital storage site.

“Homeowners insurance doesn’t usually cover weather-related flooding, but flood insurance is available through the National Flood Insurance Program. If you live in a high-risk area, consider purchasing a policy,” adds Petro. “If your vehicle is damaged in a hurricane, it may be covered by your auto insurance policy if you carry comprehensive coverage, but it’s best to make sure. Your local Mercury Insurance agent is able to help verify what is and is not covered in the event you’re affected by a hurricane.”

Petro also advises policyholders to follow a few simple procedures to help speed up claims if your home or vehicle is impacted by a hurricane.

When filing a claim

  • Contact Mercury immediately to report your loss.
  • Be prepared to provide your policy number.
  • Do not remove debris or damaged property that may be related to your claim.

Steps after filing a claim

  • Prepare a detailed inventory of destroyed or damaged property.
  • Offer photos or videos of your home and possessions to your adjuster, if these are available.
  • Keep copies of communications between you and your adjuster.
  • Keep records and receipts for additional living expenses that were incurred if you were forced to leave your home, and provide copies to your adjuster.

Visit Mercury’s blog to learn more tips to protect your home and family.

ABOUT MERCURY INSURANCE
Mercury Insurance (MCY) is a multiple-line insurance organization predominantly offering personal automobile, homeowners and commercial insurance through a network of independent agents in Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia. Since 1962, Mercury has specialized in offering quality insurance at affordable prices. For more information visit http://www.mercuryinsurance.com or Facebook.com/MercuryInsurance and follow the company on Twitter.

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Kyle Reuter
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