BILOXI, Miss. — Tropical Storm Sally is forecast to strengthen into a Category 1 hurricane as it approaches the northern gulf coast late Monday. The storm is expected to bring significant storm surge, flooding rainfall, and damaging winds, which may be exacerbated by the storm’s slow movement. The American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA) urges residents to prepare their insurance information and take important last-minute actions to protect their property from damage.
“As residents rush to make final preparations for the storm, gather copies of your insurance policies, save your insurer’s contact information to your phone, and make a home inventory,” said Ron Jackson, vice president of state government relations for APCIA. “These simple actions will help ensure you can file a claim quickly if your property is damaged.”
Damage associated with wind and other severe weather is typically covered under a standard homeowners, renters or business policy. Flood damage is not typically covered under these policies but can be covered under a separate policy through the National Flood Insurance Program or the private insurance market. Water damage to a vehicle is typically covered if the policyholder’s auto policy includes comprehensive insurance coverage.
APCIA urges residents in the path of Tropical Storm Sally to take the following last-minute actions to prepare:
1. Gather copies of your insurance policies and keep them in a secure, dry location. If you are not able to get a copy of your policy, having your policy number available is also helpful.
2. Save your insurer’s contact info. Save your insurer’s toll-free claims number to your cell phone’s contacts. APCIA has a list of insurer’s toll-free numbers here.
3. Make a home or business inventory. Use your cell phone to take photos or videos of your personal belongings (including furniture, appliances, clothes, lawn equipment, jewelry, and art) or your business property. Save your inventory to a place where you can easily retrieve it, such as the cloud, or email a copy to yourself. If you have already evacuated, you can make a list of your belongings instead.
4. Close your garage door and all interior doors. According to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), closing interior doors helps to compartmentalize pressure inside a home if a door or window is blown open, which reduces the force on the roof.
5. Secure or store outdoor items like grills, patio furniture and small loose items. These types of items can become dangerous projectiles during high winds.
6. Put up hurricane or plywood shutters on all windows. Taping windows is not effective.
7. Brace or reinforce your garage door to help prevent significant structural damage. Research from IBHS shows that a garage door is one of the most vulnerable parts of the home during high winds.
8. Follow all guidelines and evacuation orders from local officials. If you are evacuating, make sure you have face masks and hand sanitizer for all members of your family, and never leave pets behind.