Preparing for Stormy Times

Preparation is vital when dealing with the unexpected. As another hurricane season gets underway, it is important that you take the time to prepare while all is calm, so that you can limit potential damage should the wind blow.

Check Your Policies

The first step to being covered during a storm is to make sure your insurance policies are up to date. If you’ve purchased new outdoor furniture or completed renovations on your home, check that these are reflected in your policies.  Rebuilding costs tend to rise over time so you should review your “sums insured” annually to ensure you have adequate coverage. If necessary, arrange a survey of your property.

When considering your “contents sum insured”, use this rule of thumb: include anything you’d take with you if you moved house – including items such as curtains and rugs. If your sum insured is not sufficient at the time of a claim, your claim payment may be proportionately reduced.

Understand Your Coverage

Know your benefits. Many policy owners are not aware of all the benefits on offer through their insurance. BF&M, for example, includes cover for loss of rent, or the cost of alternative accommodation resulting from storm damage. There are also allowances for limited pet coverage, removal of building debris, replacement of spoiled food in freezers or of fresh water contaminated by cause of a windstorm or flood.

Review your policy carefully for conditions and exclusions. Unoccupied homes, satellite dishes, solar panels, docks, and sheds are subject to special conditions. If the risks for which you seek protection are not disclosed, this could limit your pay out in the event of a claim.

Understand Your Deductible

A deductible is the amount of money that a policy owner is responsible for paying in the event of a claim before the insurance company makes a payment. For example, if your deductible is $1000, and you make a claim for $5000, you will pay $1000 and your insurance provider will pay $4000.

Deductibles apply to building and contents damage caused by windstorms, earthquakes or floods. While you can reduce your annual premium by selecting a higher deductible, make sure you select an amount that you can afford to pay if you have to claim. By increasing your deductible, you are effectively self-insuring for an increased amount of money.

Make a Family Plan – and Practice It!

Think ahead and prepare emergency lists and numbers now. Post emergency telephone numbers by your phones and make sure your children know how and when to call 911. Have an FM radio tuned to 100.1 mHz – and remember to replace its batteries. If needed, purchase battery power packs for cell phones.

Prepare a hurricane emergency kit with your family and have all items in an accessible area known by all members of the household. Include safety and emergency gear including flashlights and extra batteries, a minimum of a three-day supply of drinking water and non-perishable food for each person. Be sure to have any medications that are needed in advance.  And if your family includes pets, make sure your emergency kit includes food and supplies for them.

Secure Your Property

If a storm is approaching, board up windows and glass doors or install your storm shutters to prevent breakage and possible further damage inside the property. Secure outdoor furniture, barbeques, large yard tools or toys, or any loose object that could become a dangerous missile in hurricane winds.  If you are undergoing construction, make sure all machinery, rocks and debris are safely secured. Leave your vehicle less vulnerable to damage by parking it in a safe spot on your property.

If You Have a Boat, Insure It

No matter how careful you are, events beyond your control can happen. Marine insurance covers your boat in case of collision, fire, theft, sinking at the mooring, weather, and liability. Without insurance, you risk facing having to pay for damage on your own, and extensive damage may be unaffordable. If your boat is insured, be sure to keep up with the maintenance and go over the details with your insurance representative so that you know what is and is not covered.

One Last Note

If you can, remember to check on the elderly, infirmed or parents with young children who may have trouble preparing and require help.  Bermuda has a history of resilience in stormy times; when we work together and look out for each other, we are that much stronger in the face of adversity.

Larenzo Ratteray is Vice President, Claims at BF&M. For more information, contact Larenzo at lratteray@bfm.bm or call 295-5566.

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