Homeowners Insurance: What to do During Local Environmental Emergencies
Emily Sperry January 13, 2020
The purpose of homeowners insurance is to protect your investment in a home and your belongings during an emergency. At InsureYourHome.com, our mission is to protect your dream. Emergencies happen! Environmental crises can be astonishing in their size and cost millions, even billions of dollars in damages. With this blog we’ll discuss your coverages and responsibilities as the insured and remind you that your family’s safety is paramount!
Your Personal Safety Comes First During an Emergency
Whether it’s a forest fire, building fire, earthquake, tsunami, or hazardous waste spill, the first thing any homeowner needs to do is be sure that you and your family are SAFE! This should go without saying but:
- Grab your family and leave a home that’s on fire.
- Dial 911 from a cell phone or a neighbors house.
- Knock on other neighbor’s doors LOUDLY as you get away from a fire.
- Wait for firefighters and trained emergency personnel to do their job.
- Smoke is just as dangerous as fire to your family. Try to get away from smoke, stay low and “breathe clean” if you can.
- If your family is safely away from the fire, you can take cell phone photos or videos of the situation. Your insurer would like to have them.
- Start the claim process by calling your insurer. (It would be a good idea to save your insurance company’s claims department phone number and policy number in your cell phone. People rarely know these numbers by heart in an emergency)
- If a fire is small, and you think you can prevent damage, go for it! For instance, if a home two doors down is on fire, spray your own home with water from a hose, remove valuable jewelry and artwork from the house and move your cars away from the fire.
- Preventing damage is part of your responsibility as a homeowner. But not at the risk of your safety!
What About Earthquakes?
Every homeowner’s insurance policy is unique. It’s an exclusive contract to protect your home and belongings in case of major emergencies. NOT EVERY POLICY INCLUDES EARTHQUAKE INSURANCE. If you’d like to learn more about earthquake insurance, give us a call or start your free quote here.
Like any other fast-acting emergency, your family’s immediate safety is most important!
- Get away from “tippable” furniture like bookcases or toolboxes.
- Get out of your home and away from trees or buildings that could topple over.
- If you’re driving, slow down, pull over and park the car. Don’t jump out of your car into oncoming traffic! Be very aware of your surroundings.
- Call your insurer to get a claim started if there is severe damage.
Know that some earthquake policies and endorsements have very high deductibles, as much as 15% of the total value of the home.
- In other words, the owner of a $200,000 home with a 15% deductible would need to pay $30,000 before their earthquake insurance would kick in.
- Earthquake policies won’t cover small claims like broken windows and broken china.
- If this homeowner experienced a complete loss (if their home toppled over completely), they would get a check for the value of the home and it’s contents.
- Contact InsureYourHome.com if you want to go over earthquake insurance options.
Some Emergencies Are Just as Destructive, But Slower Than Fires or Earthquakes
Certain local environmental situations are slower or less destructive than fires. A good example is flooding. Per Livescience.com, “In terms of lives lost and property damaged, floods are just behind tornadoes as the top natural disaster. In the [US], flood damages totaled $8.41 billion in 2011. There were 113 flood-related deaths.”
Though we don’t always think of floods as being as destructive as a fire, know that floods can affect any area where rain falls.
- Floods can come on slowly or quickly.
- Most homeowner’s policies do not cover flood. There is special flood insurance for that, called National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)
- Contact us if you’d like help getting a flood policy.
If you’re experiencing a slow-acting emergency, take a few photos with your cell phone and grab any necessary paperwork before leaving the home:
- birth certificates
- social security information
- ID cards
- legal documents
What About Other Area Emergencies, Like Civil Riots? Are Those Covered by Homeowner’s Insurance?
Your homeowner’s policy will cover your home in cases of civil unrest, riots, airplane crashes, and the like. Contact us to learn more about homeowners insurance topics, like which perils are covered and which are not. We’d love to get a free quote started for you!