What You Should Do Before the Hurricane Hits

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Bob Scott, an insurance expert and partner at Advocate Law Group P.C., has represented policyholders against insurance companies for over 40 years. If you are in the path of the next big hurricane and preparing for evacuation, wondering what you can do or take with you in anticipation of a possible insurance claim, here is some sound advice from Bob. 

Quickly Document What You Have

Grab a camera or use your smart phone to photograph or videotape the following:

  • Personal possessions in each room of your home, including the contents of closets, drawers, and cabinets.
  • Special collections, antiques, and other irreplaceable items, like your silver collection or Grandma’s antique lamp.
  • The exterior of your home, including yards, trees, and plants.
  • Any separate exterior structures, like a garage or shed, and the contents inside those structures.
  • Any vehicles you plan to leave behind, the exterior, interior, and location of that vehicle.

Documenting on video or in photos what you own and the condition of those possessions and the interior and exterior of your home should hopefully take no more than 15-20 minutes. If you feel you have 15-20 minutes to spare before bolting out the door, take the time to do as much as you can to document what you have. If you find there is damage when you return, you will be glad to have proof of the existence and condition of the items you care about. If you are making a video, talk as you go through your home and possessions and explain where you are (“I’m in the dining room”) and what you are recording (“This is my grandmother’s silverware, handed down to me by my mother.”)

Take Insurance Documents and Broker Contact Info

If your insurance documents are easy to locate, take them with you. More importantly, if you have handy the contact information for your broker or agent, take that with you. Your broker or agent will have copies of your insurance documents and can help you contact your insurer and file a claim.

If you are really pressed for time, documenting what you own is more important than scrambling to find insurance papers.

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