As I write this article, tropical storm Dean is lurking to the east in the middle of the Atlantic. We do not yet know if Dean will become the first hurricane of the 2007 season. We can only hope that it will not. Assuming for a moment that it does: are we prepared? While all of us could become victims of a fire or theft, those of us that live in areas of the country that are prone to natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, wildfires and earthquakes are particularly vulnerable. Dean’s approaching presence is the only reminder we need; if we are not already prepared, now is the time! For starters:
- Prepare or purchase a disaster kit that includes water, non-perishable food, battery-operated light sources, first aid supplies, etc.
- Make a family plan
- Gather and protect important documents
- Determine where you will go if you must evacuate
- Make preparations for pets
- Complete a home inventory of your belongings
Most of us make sure we buy bottled water, canned foods and flashlights, (our definition of a “disaster kit”), but few of us ever make a family plan or complete a home inventory. In fact, only 4 in 10 of us have completed a home inventory, according to the Insurance Research Council. And that means that the majority of us are not indeed prepared!
If a disaster were to strike and a loss sustained, 60% of us would be faced with the daunting task of recalling specific details about all of our possessions that were damaged or destroyed in order to file an insurance claim. Brand, model, serial number, date and place of purchase, purchase price, condition, etc. Can you imagine being in the midst of a recovery effort and having to spend time focusing on that? And assuming we could indeed recall these details, without some form of proof of ownership like a photo, video or receipt, we may not get the full value of our claim. The last thing we would want to deal with at that point in time is a battle with the insurance company. In reality, though, insurance companies typically want to satisfy our claims, but without proper documentation, what else can we expect?
My point is simple. Hopefully Dean will weaken as it approaches the US. But do not wait to find out. Complete your preparations today. Create that family plan, buy that first aid kit and complete that home inventory. If you would rather hire someone to do the inventory for you, there are many qualified professional asset inventory specialists out there. Act today. Be prepared!