Drought is Key Reminder to Use Caution and Prepare Property and Finances for Catastrophes
CHICAGO – A stronger economy and lower gas prices will put more Americans on the road over Memorial Day weekend. AAA Travel forecasts 37.2 million Americans will travel 50 miles away from home over Memorial Day Weekend. As Americans prepare for outdoor fun in parks, backyards and the nearest body of water, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI), urges homeowners, renters and businesses to prevent outdoor fun from sparking disaster.
“Extreme drought conditions in western states should remind all of us to enjoy the holiday while also being cautious so that we don’t inadvertently have an accident or spark a wildfire while camping or hiking,” said Christopher Hackett, PCI director of personal lines policy. “Memorial Day is the traditional summer kick off and start to road trips, outdoor activities and travel. But summer fun can get out of control quickly. Continued epic drought conditions in California and other states have fire officials on high alert for wildfires. All Americans should be conscious of how their actions could ignite sparks. A mishap with fireworks in a dry field or an unattended camp fire can transform summer good times into a major wildfire, damaging homes and the environment.”
The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) reports there have been 19,433 fires burning 373,888 acres across the country so far in 2015.
“Fire officials say 98 percent of wildfires are caused by humans which means 98 percent of wildfires are preventable,” said Hackett. “Regardless of the cause, all Americans should take a few minutes to get financially prepared for a catastrophe. Take your smart phone and walk through your home to inventory all your personal possessions. Call your agent or insurance company to update your coverage. Make sure your insurance policy reflects your correct square footage. Taking simple steps now can make a big difference later.”
Be Financially Prepared – Do an Insurance Check up
Talk with your agent or company annually to update your insurance policy. You should also update your policy after home renovations and additions and be sure it accurately reflects the square footage of your home.
Understand Your Insurance Policy
Understand what is covered under a replacement cost policy and an actual cash value policy. It is also important to understand that you must purchase earthquake and flood coverage under separate policies.
Make a Home Inventory
Take pictures and make a video of your home’s interior. Make lists of contents in each room. Keep receipts. Remember to video your garage.
Ask key questions such as do you need building code upgrade coverage, additional coverage for a foundation or additional living expenses.
Create Defensible Space
Clear brush and debris around home, cut trees away from house, clear rain gutters, move wood piles away from home. Fire officials recommend 100 feet of defensible space.
Make a Family Evacuation Plan
Take time to plan what you will do if you have to evacuate, plan ahead so you know what you will take, and have items such as medications, photo albums and pet supplies ready.