Tag Archives: flood insurance

Preparation for Mother Nature

Heat waves, droughts, floods, earthquakes, wildfires, tornadoes and hurricanes torment Americans every year. During 2011-2013 the U.S. experienced 25 weather- and climate-related disasters, costing $175 billion in total damages, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Not everyone can pack up and move to Michigan – one of the states with the fewest occurrences of natural disasters – but there are steps you can take to prepare your home in the event a natural disaster strikes.

Scenario: Your home is located in a flood zone.

  • First and foremost, make sure you have flood insurance because standard homeowners and renters insurance policies usually don’t cover flooding. Flood insurance policies are available through the National Flood Insurance Program and typically have a 30-day waiting period from the date of purchase before they go into effect.
  • Elevate furnaces, water heaters and electrical components (switches, sockets, circuit breakers, and wiring) at least 12 inches above your home’s projected flood elevation and make sure they’re secured to a solid structure.
  • Anchor any fuel tanks.
  • Consider constructing barriers to prevent water from entering the building, as well as sealing basement walls with waterproofing compounds.
  • Locate the main power switch for utilities, as well as the main gas valve, in case you need to disconnect and close them during a storm.                                                                        Scenario: Hot, dry conditions may spark a wildfire.
  • Plant fire-resistant plants and shrubs.
  • Install fire-resistant roofing materials.
  • Regularly clean your roof and gutters and mow the lawn, clearing away clippings and dry twigs immediately.
  • Keep garden hoses attached to faucets to aid fire personnel.
  • Set aside household items like rakes, axes, saws, buckets and shovels that can be used as fire tools.
  • Consider installing protective shutters or heavy, fire-resistant drapes.
  • Mercury Insurance offers additional tips to help plan ahead and protect your home in the event of a wildfire.
  • Install screens over attic vents with a mesh size of 1/8 inch.

Scenario: An earthquake might occur.

  • Fasten shelves securely to walls and make sure large or heavy items are stored on lower shelves.
  • Secure heavy items to walls (pictures and mirrors) away from beds and areas where people sit.
  • Hire a professional to repair defective wiring and leaky gas connections. Also seek professional help to look for signs of structural damage and to repair deep cracks in ceilings and the foundation.
  • Locate safe spots in each room under a sturdy table or against an inside wall.
  • Keep a wrench near your main gas valve and learn how to turn it off.
  • Secure water heaters, furnaces, gas appliances and furniture by bolting them to wall studs.
  • Install cabinet latches to prevent them from opening and spilling contents, such as dishes and glassware.

Before any type of disaster strikes, you should also have an emergency plan in place for your family that includes a designated meeting place, emergency contact numbers and evacuation plan. Practice your plan at least twice a year to keep it fresh in everyone’s minds and make adjustments as needed. And if you have a pet, incorporate them into your evacuation plan, too.

You should also have an emergency kit that is easily accessible and includes basic survival items.

  • One gallon of water per person
  • Non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (and extra batteries)
  • Flashlight
  • First-aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Can opener
  • Blankets
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Portable charging station for cell phones

FEMA recommends keeping three-day supplies of food and water for each family member.

Consider packing prescription medications, glasses, important financial documents, copies of insurance policies (and your agent’s contact information), a recent copy of your household inventory, birth certificates, social security cards and other identification in a portable waterproof container. It’s also a good idea to include $500 cash in small bills since ATMs and credit card processing units may be inaccessible during a power outage.

If you’re affected by a natural disaster, Mercury Insurance recommends taking the following steps to facilitate the claims process:

When filing a claim

  • Contact your insurance provider immediately to report a 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 videotapes 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.

Ready.govFEMA and the American Red Cross offer additional tips for protecting your home and family before, during and after a disaster.

Understanding Car Safety Ratings

Understanding-Car-Safety-Ratings

Although newer vehicles are generally more expensive to insure than older ones, consumers can often get discounts if their new vehicles have the latest safety features. Advances in crash and accident avoidance technology mean that consumers who buy a new vehicle equipped with the latest safety features are often less likely to be seriously injured in a car crash.

Safety ratings are a function of two major factors: prevention—how well the vehicle is designed to prevent an accident—and, crashworthiness—how well the vehicle performs in a crash.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety ranks its Top Safety Picks based on good, acceptable, marginal or poor performance in high-speed front and side crash tests, a rollover test, and evaluations of seat / head restraints for protection against neck injuries during rear impacts. Crash tests are conducted on a half-dozen types of vehicles, including large cars, mid-sized cars, small cars, minivans, mid-size SUVs, and small SUVs. You can also visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website for a full report on recalls and defects.

Currently, some of the top-rated safety features are:

  • Adaptive front airbags
  • Side airbags
  • Side curtain airbags
  • Knee airbags
  • Electronic stability control
  • Anti-lock braking systems
  • Brake assist
  • Tire pressure monitors
  • Back-up sensors
  • Park assist
  • Blind-spot warning
  • Lane departure warning
  • Forward-collision warning
  • Smart headlights
  • Crash-alert systems (such as OnStar)
  • Built-in car seats

Technology is ever-improving, and, as time goes by, manufacturers and the government are standardizing these features. Doing your homework ahead of time and knowing what your options are can make the decision-making process smoother and get you into that new car faster!

Yearly Disaster Preparation Check-Up

Emergency_604x377

When was the last time you thought about an emergency-preparedness plan? “Never,” is the answer most people would give, which could have terrible consequences if you happen to be caught in the middle of a disaster. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), natural disasters in the U.S. have increased 700 percent since 1950 and reports from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration indicate severe weather events are also occurring more frequently, so now is the time to get prepared.

September is National Preparedness Month, but since disasters can strike at any moment, it’s important to   prepare before disaster strikes …Today. Creating an emergency plan is a good start, but remember, you should review it with your family annually. For example, do you have a newborn in the family? Did you adopt a pet? Have emergency kit materials expired? If you’ve experienced any of these or other changes, then you need to update your plan to make sure you’re prepared. Here are six things to consider during your routine yearly disaster preparedness check-up:

  1. Check emergency kit materials
    Refresh everyone’s memory of where the emergency kit is located.  Check expiration dates of materials in the kit to assure perishable items will last for at least another year, including food, water and batteries. According to FEMA, here’s a full list of materials to include in a basic emergency kit.
  2. Update your emergency plan
    A basic plan should have a meeting place in case disaster hits and your home becomes unsafe, as well as at least two escape routes. Each year, make sure to remind everyone of the meeting place, ensure it is still a safe location and evaluate everyone’s escape routes to avoid new obstructions. Take into account any special needs of children, seniors, people with disabilities, family members who don’t speak English and pets.
  3. Know how to turn off your utilities
    Learn where the utility shut-offs are located and how to operate them. Turning off gas mains can prevent leaks and turning off electricity can help prevent potential fires started by electrical sparks. Additionally, turning off your water main can help prevent flooding.
  4. Practice home safety
    Home safety should be observed year-round, not just in the event of an impending disaster. Install smoke detectors in each room of your home and replace the batteries every six months. Store heavy items on the lowest shelves. Combustible items such as firewood, picnic tables, boats and flammable liquids should be kept separately and 50 feet from your home and other structures.
  5. Prepare your insurance
    Getting ready for a natural disaster actually starts by choosing your insurance policy. Ask yourself: Do I have enough insurance to repair or replace my home if it is damaged or destroyed? Mercury recommends you get an insurance check-up from your agent or broker once a year to help you make an informed decision about the coverage you need.
  6. Catalog your property
    Recovering from a disaster takes time. To ease this process, keep a detailed inventory of your property and update it annually. Photos and videos of your home can be presented to insurance adjusters to help your claim. Mashable, a technology blog, provides a list of eight home inventory apps that make creating inventory of your property easy. Visit the Mercury Insurance website for additional tips to help with the claims process in the event your home suffers damage.

Be proactive about disaster preparedness. You’ll be investing in your family’s safety, property and peace of mind.

Flood Insurance Thousand Oaks CA

Warning: Winter Storms Are Coming, Get Flood Insurance Now!

Prepare your home and business for predicted floods and storms.

While the weather is dry and sunny in Southern California, be warned that it’s not due to continue: El Nino is coming and this winter is predicted to be a wet one! Despite California not being known for it’s rain and flooding, this only makes our land more precipitation-intolerant. The land has been in such a drought that experts say that when it does rain, the land will become overwhelmed with water and flooding will occur quite rapidly.

What are viable flood defenses that you can put in place to protect your building? You may be turning your homeowners insurance policy, expecting that to cover damages in the event of flooding – but you’ll be disappointed. Standard homeowners insurances don’t provide any flood insurance coverage whatsoever. Due to the extensive damage and destruction flooding can do to a house and belongings, insurers smartly decided to withdraw this coverage, instead setting up flood insurance as a stand-alone policy.

Luckily, your Californian flood insurance policy would apply to homes, condos, mobile homes, businesses and rentals that are in flood zone areas. At Integrity First Insurance Services, our flood insurance policy can offer:

  • Building, contents, replacement cost coverage
  • Standard flood insurance coverage
  • Optional excess flood coverage
  • Affordable rates!

Before you rule out any additional coverages, ensure that you select the best policy, at the best price for your home and belongings. Luckily, personal property needn’t be lost forever and your home can be restored without breaking the bank!

Serving the Conejo Valley within California with quality insurance, contact Integrity First Insurance Services, located in Thousand Oaks.

Keep Your House Safe From Any Natural Disaster!

Disaster Preparedness Tips

Typically, there is very little warning before a natural disaster hits. While there is no way that you can control Mother Nature, there are steps that you can take to help ensure that you and your family stay safe. Keep these disaster preparedness tips in mind to ensure that you are ready for whatever Mother Nature has in store this season.

If you have to deal with a flood:

Floods can easily destroy your home and belongings in a matter of seconds. Elevate your water heater, furnace, and other electrical components above the flood level in your area to help keep them safe. Keep in mind that your homeowners insurance policy will not provide any coverage, only a specific flood insurance policy will. Flood insurance policies have a 30-day waiting period, so the sooner you invest in a policy, the sooner you will be protected.

If a wildfire threatens your house:

Use fire resistant plants and shrubs in your landscaping. If it is time to re-do your roof, consider using fire-resistant roofing materials. Keep your rain gutters clear of any fallen leaves or other flammable materials. Take a look at your home insurance policy to ensure that you have enough coverage if your house is damaged or destroyed by the flames.

If an earthquake shakes your Conejo Valley house:

Secure all heavy items to the wall, including mirrors, shelves, and dressers. When placing items in cupboards, make sure that the heaviest items are on the lowest shelves. Just like a flood, your home insurance policy will not provide any protection for damage done during an earthquake. You will need to invest in a specific earthquake insurance policy to keep your house and assets safe.

To ensure that all of your insurance policies are working to keep you safe, contact Integrity First Insurance in Thousand Oaks, California.

Know The Difference Between Water Damage And Flood Damage

Water Damage vs. Flood Damage

When dealing with broken pipes, burst water mains, and other water issues in your home, you likely do not think about whether you should file a water damage claim or a flood damage claim. Many homeowners do not realize there is a difference between these two types of claims. Gathered is some vital information about water damage and flood damage to help you better understand the issues you may be dealing with.

Floods

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a flood is defined as a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres and two or more properties of normally dry land. Within this definition, flood damage can only be caused by:

  • Overflow of inland or tidal waters.
  • Unusual accumulation of runoff of surface water.
  • Mudflow.
  • The collapse of land along a body of water, as a result of erosion caused by waves or currents.

So What Is The Difference?

In simple terms, the difference between a flood damage claim and a water damage claim is that a flood involves water from a natural source and includes more than one property. If only your home is dealing with water issues, chances are you are dealing with a water damage claim, not a flood damage claim.

Flood Insurance

Most home insurance policies do not include flood insurance. If you are in an area at risk of flooding, you should contact the National Flood Insurance Program for a policy. This will allow you to stay protected from flood damage and be able to file a flood damage claim. You can learn more about purchasing flood insurance here if you are concerned about your home’s risk.

For all of your homeowner’s insurance needs throughout the Conejo Valley, contact the insurance professionals at Integrity First Insurance Services in Thousand Oaks, California.