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Natural Disasters: How to Prepare and Respond

September 11, 2018
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At LegalShield, we too are watching the catastrophic predictions for Hurricane Florence. Our hearts go out to everyone in the path of the storm and we pray for you and your family’s safety. From tornadoes in the Midwest to wildfires in California, it is important for everyone to be prepared for natural disasters and know how to respond in the aftermath. The first priority in any disaster is safety. As soon as you and your family are safe, your LegalShield provider law firm stands ready to assist you – today and for as long as it takes to help you recover.

Preparation

  • Develop a Plan - Set a plan for what your family should do in an emergency and where to meet if you become separated. Research local evacuation routes, particularly if you live in a coastal community, floodplain or other area prone to disasters.
     
  • Review Insurance - Make sure you have the best coverage you can afford to protect your property and belongings. Your LegalShield provider law firm can help review your policy to make sure you fully understand the terms and limitations. If you rent, you landlord’s insurance will not cover damage to your personal property, make sure you have renters insurance. It is always helpful to understand the exclusions and potential limitations of any insurance policy before it is needed. You should also have your LegalShield provider law firm review any new policies before you sign.
     
  • Important Documents - Keep copies of your health, auto, homeowner or renters insurance information and other important documents somewhere you can access them easily in case you need to leave your home in an emergency. Include your policy numbers and contact information. Make sure your family knows where wills and other estate planning documents are located. Write down contact information for your utility providers in case you lose power or need to report a gas leak or downed power line.

Response

  • Damaged Property - Take pictures of your home, cars, or other damaged property and keep them for later use. They may be necessary when you contact your insurance company in pursuit of recovery for your losses. Keep an inventory of anything that is destroyed or damaged. Also, wait to throw away damages items until your insurance company confirms you may do so.

 

  • Repairs - Talk with your insurance and utility providers before calling in a contractor to make repairs. When hiring a contractor confirm they are licensed and bonded. Beware of door-to-door repair scams that are common in the aftermath of storms. Do not make any payments up front and have your LegalShield provider law firm review any contracts before you sign.

 

  • Accounts - Remember to notify companies with which you have accounts to make sure that they are aware you may make your payments late. You can also ask them to defer payments on your accounts. If you do contact your creditors or financial institutions, it is always good to keep detailed notes of the conversations including the date, time and the name of the representative with whom you spoke.
     
  • Disaster Relief – File for disaster relief as soon as possible and retain all documents, including receipts that pertain to your recovery. There are many government and non-government programs designed to assist families with disaster recovery. U.S. residents can learn more here. Canadians can view their resources here. The process of applying for disaster relief can sometimes be confusing. If you need any assistance reviewing documents or understanding the process, contact your LegalShield provider law firm.
     
  • Documents - Do not sign any contracts, settlement agreements or other documents without having them reviewed by your LegalShield provider law firm.