With all of the crazy weather we’ve had this week, I hustled to get this blog out to you! When disaster strikes, do you know what to do? Being organized in case of emergency is critical when you need to make quick decisions and access important information. How organized are you for a home emergency? I partnered with Lisa Wicka, Owner and Insurance Agent for Allstate Insurance in West Chester, PA. Check out our punch-list to get & stay organized when faced with a home emergency.
They are the things that we never want to think about…
Water Pipe Burst.
These are just a handful of home emergencies that families face every day.
While you hope that it never happens to you or your loved ones, you still need to plan for it.
How prepared will you be? When emergency strikes…
Most disasters, you cannot control. But you can (and should) plan for them as a homeowner. What you do in advance will help you recover.
Allstate Insurance agency owner, Lisa Wicka and I are sharing our home disaster checklist. Action items to consider to secure your home & belongings and respond quickly in case of emergency.
CHECKLIST: ORGANIZING FOR AN EMERGENCY
- Keep Your Insurance Provider Information Handy
Depending on the emergency, your insurance Agent will be your first or second call. Make sure that you know their name/company and keep their contact information somewhere that is accessible, on your person – think mobile phone. They will help you navigate including coordinating any insurance claim, sending out insurance adjusters, recommending preferred vendors.
- Review your current insurance policy
Do you know what your insurance policy covers? Are you fully insured? Do you need additional coverage? Things to know before an emergency affects your family. Get to know your local Agent.
Your Agent should be aware of any home renovations or additions, ie: if you get a new roof let your Agent know as this may save you money on your current premium. Your Agent wants to make sure your policy reflects your home and its contents. Discuss with your Agent the items in your home that are most valuable. Homeowners policies are a yearly policy, you should review your current policy with your Agent annually.
- Keep important documents safe
Insurance policies, appraisals, social security cards, birth certificates, deed to your home, receipts for large purchases…anything that you need a record of. Consider digitizing them/keeping in the cloud, create a binder that you keep off-site, keep individual documents in a safe deposit box, store in a safe that is fireproof and concealed.
- Inventory Your Belongings
Do you know the brand of your TV and what year you purchased it?
Do you know how many rings were in your jewelry box and their value? Many people do not. Especially when facing extensive home damage and the stress that accompanies it. You need to inventory EVERYTHING in your home. You MUST be as detailed as possible for police, your insurance company in order to be properly compensated for your loss. Room by room videos work well also photographs. Use the videos/photos to create a master list of your belongings. Send both to your spouse, a trusted family member and store them in the cloud so that it can be accessed even if you lose your computer, your mobile phone. This cannot be stressed enough! In the event of a total loss you need to inventory everything you own. Each closet should be photographed to best remind you of the value of the clothing including coats you had prior to the loss.
- Get valuables appraised
And photographed! This includes jewelry, art, family heirlooms like furniture, crystal, china, etc…to determine that exact monetary value, if that is something you have no record of.
Also, update your appraisals as they are only valid for 3-5 years. If your jewelry is scheduled on your insurance policy (covered on a rider), you want to make sure your Agent has a full and complete description of the item. A gold diamond ring will not insure the carat weight and clarity. Be sure to elaborate on the size clarity and quality for each piece as detail is important.
- Protect your belongings when storing
How you store your belongings can protect them from some disasters. When storing your belongings in basements, garages, consider keeping your items elevated, in bins with lids vs boxes. This will make a huge difference if you have water damage. Think about investing in waterproof bins from The Container Store for keepsakes and irreplaceable heirlooms.
- Prepare and practice your escape plan
In case of fire, do you have an escape plan in place for your family? Do your children know where to go, if you get lost for one reason or another? Making a plan before an emergency can be a life-saving step in the process.
- Keep entrances and walkways clear
This can be critical for elderly parents and loved ones who have a large amounts of clutter. If you cannot get out, first responders need easy access to get to you.
- Test smoke alarms and CO detectors monthly
Test and change batteries frequently to ensure they are in proper working order.
Things can be replaced. Your family cannot. Always take care of your family first when faced with an emergency. However, it can only help to put safeguards in place to protect your belongings. A wise man once said, “It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.” Start early, plan ahead and make this part of your homeowner protocols. Being prepared will save you time, money, stress and grief when emergency strikes.
About Carrie Kauffman
Carrie Kauffman is an award winning professional organizer, member of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals, Greater Philadelphia Chapter (NAPO-GPC) and owner of Carrie’s Essential Services, LLC. Carrie Kauffman provides organizing services, in homes & offices, on the Main Line and surrounding communities. Carrie’s Essential Services specializes in moving & packing, preparing homes for sale, office setup including filing systems as well as general organizing & de-cluttering.
About Lisa Wicka
Lisa Wicka owns an Allstate Insurance Agency in West Chester, Pa. Lisa has over 25 years in the Insurance Industry and provides hands on personal service to her customers that includes Auto, Home and Life Insurance. Lisa’s team includes Beth Harris and Angela Cacciavillano. Both Beth and Angela are licensed Insurance professionals.