Thursday, May 8, 2014

Before and After the Storm

How to prepare and how to move to repair

Those of us who know how lucky we are to be Iowans also know how the weather can turn quickly on us with devastating and occasionally deadly results. Just last month, two Iowans lost their lives because of tornadoes and storms damaged many homes and vehicles.

Preparation and having a plan for reaction and repair are the best way we have to deal with the potential impact storms have on our lives.  Fortunately, preparation guidance abounds with local, state and federal agencies such as local emergency management organizations, the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management ( and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Following their storm plans will not only protect property, but may save your life.

One tip not typically found on the emergency management pages is an everyday but important step taken by most of us, getting the right level of insurance protection and knowing how to access your insurance information, even after a storm. Storms can crush houses, destroy cars, blow away and ruin belongings, and disrupt our lives in many ways, but it will be possible for us to bounce back if we have included insurance protection in our planning process.

Reacting to a loss and preparing for repair present an entirely different, though connected, process. Some should occur right away or as soon as possible: Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart offers the following suggestions to victims of storms:

  • Take pictures of damage as soon as possible.
  • Do not throw out damaged furniture or other expensive items until the adjuster sees them.
  • Start to make a list of items missing or destroyed so it is ready when you meet with your adjuster. To be really prepared for this, use an inventory app such as the NAIC’s free myHOME Scr.APP.bookto record all your possessions as part of your preparation plan.
  • Work with your agent.  If your policy is missing, get a copy of it from your agent.
  • Find out your insurance company’s rules and guidelines for temporary repairs.
  • Board up broken windows and holes in walls or roof. Plywood and heavy plastic sheeting are useful.
  • Keep all repair bills and receipts.
  • Do not contract for repairs, except temporary ones, without checking with your adjuster or agent.
  • Don’t allow yourself to be rushed into signing repair contracts. Check contractor credentials.
  • Give all numbers where you can be reached so insurance adjusters and others can find you.
  • If the estimated settlement proves to be inadequate, you may request a reinspection if additional damage is discovered.
  • If you are unable to reach your agent and need guidance or assistance, contact the Insurance Division’s toll-free number, 877-955-1212.