Saturday, September 5, 2009
The following essay is by Cameron Huddleston of Kiplinger's Personal Finance
Sunday, September 6, 2009
The wildfires in California are a reminder that disaster can strike at any time, and it pays to be prepared.
Howard Mills, chief adviser of Deloitte & Touche's Insurance Industry Group and a former New York insurance superintendent, offers these tips.
How to Prepare
-- Know what you have to lose. Take a home inventory, by video if possible.
-- Know what your homeowners policy covers and the difference between assessed value and actual replacement value. Too many people learn only after a fire that they were underinsured.
-- Clear your yard of items that could fuel a fire.
-- Prepare an emergency kit that includes medical supplies, cash, enough food and water for up to a week, pet supplies, and camping equipment.
-- Make sure your entire household knows the drill. Rehearse a 10-minute evacuation with your family -- that may be all the advance warning you are given.
What to Do Afterward
-- Take stock after the fire. If it's safe, take an inventory of damage. If you have been evacuated and didn't prepare an inventory of your belongings, do it now.
-- Contact your insurance agent as soon as possible -- get losses on record immediately.
-- Be smart about hiring contractors. Beware of fly-by-night service providers and keep receipts to ensure a smooth claims process.
-- Reach out to your state insurance department if you are having difficulty reaching your insurer.
-- Don't forget about the extras included in your insurance policy. Some policies offer payment for living expenses and temporary housing, among other items.
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