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Preparing Your Personal Documents In Case Of A Natural Disaster

Posted by Jimmy Hawley on Nov 24, 2021 10:00:00 AM

Hurricanes can be devastating, which is why it’s critical to be prepared, including having a hurricane insurance policy that fits your needs. 

If you need to file a claim after a hurricane, you must have access to personal documents, including titles, insurance papers, and receipts. Keeping this information easily accessible is crucial to quickly getting your claim processed and receiving proper compensation for any damage.

It’s important to note that hurricane insurance in Florida does not cover flooding. So, if there is flooding due to a hurricane, you'll need to make sure you keep your flood insurance documents up-to-date and accessible as well. 

If it is hurricane season or you know a hurricane is coming, it is important to store your personal documents in a dry and safe place; always be sure to have electronic copies of your personal items as well as hard copies. Long before a disaster, you should develop a backup plan for making your documents accessible when you need them.


Do I Need Hurricane Insurance and Flood Insurance?

You might be wondering why hurricane insurance and flood insurance are different. To put it simply, hurricane coverage on a homeowner’s insurance policy covers the damage from wind during a “named storm” or hurricane, however, it does not cover water coming into your home from the ground level. 

Hurricane Insurance Coverage  

Hurricane insurance coverage is typically standard on a Florida homeowner’s policy. If your policy covers hurricane or “named storm” damage, it is referring to damage caused by wind.

If there is a hurricane or named storm exclusion on your policy, you will need to either add hurricane coverage to your policy or purchase separate hurricane wind coverage. 

Flood Insurance Coverage

Flood damage caused by a hurricane will not be covered under your hurricane insurance, making flood insurance crucial for your Florida home. Flood insurance covers rising water that comes into your home at the ground level, excluding wind-driven rain. In some areas, flood insurance is required as a term of your mortgage. Learn more about requirements, zones, and review FEMA’s Flood Maps. 


What Documents Should I Protect?

During hurricane prep, people always make sure to put up hurricane shutters, charge electronic devices, and store up enough dry food and water to wait out the storm. The hurricane prep step that often gets forgotten is putting together and safely storing all of your important documents. Taking the time to store your important personal documents (and/or copies) will protect you if the originals are damaged, lost, or destroyed in a hurricane.

Here is a list of important documents that you should make sure to protect during hurricane season:

  • Insurance Documents And Policy Numbers.
  • Birth Certificates.
  • Social Security Cards.
  • Driver's Licenses.
  • Passports.
  • Vehicle Registrations and Titles.
  • Property Deeds.
  • Medicare or Insurance Cards, Prescription Records, and Contact Information for Your Doctors.
  • Financial Records: Tax Records, Bank Statements, Account Numbers.
  • Your Will, Estate Planning Paperwork, and Contact Information for Your Executor of Estate.


Where Should I Store My Personal Documents?

Now that you’ve collected your important personal documents, it's time to come up with a plan to keep them safe. 

In Your Home Or Business

If you are planning to keep your important documents inside your home or business, there are a few different ways you can store them:

    1. The best option is to store your personal documents in a portable, fireproof (weatherproof) file system or lockbox that you can take with you in case of evacuation.
    2. If you do not have access to a weatherproof lockbox, consider storing your documents in a hard, plastic storage container away from any windows. 
    3. Store your documents in a place in your home or business that is likely to be above the potential flood line. 

Secure Offsite Storage 

If you are planning to store your important documents outside of your home, please note:  

    1. One of the safest ways to assure the integrity of your documents is to store them offsite in a safe deposit box. If you choose the offsite route, make sure to keep adding new documents as you acquire them. 
    2. Another option is to store your documents at a temperature-controlled storage facility. 

Electronic Storage

One of the best ways to keep records of personal documents is to store them electronically. Of course, there are some documents that cannot solely be stored online, such as birth certificates, passports, and social security cards, but keeping a copy of them can still be beneficial. With your documents in electronic format, you can access them from anywhere. Three ways to electronically store your documents are:

    1. Saved to your Google Drive or a similar cloud-based document storage platform. 
    2. On a CD or DVD.
    3. Saved to a Flash Drive. 

You can even combine electronic and offsite storage methods by storing electronic copies of your documents on a CD/DVD or flash drive and putting them into a safe deposit box. 


What Else Should I Prepare for Hurricane Season?

In addition to protecting important documents, personal items could also be damaged or lost during a hurricane, flood, or other natural disasters. The best way to be accurately compensated by insurance is to keep an accurate record of your personal items. 

Inventory Your Home 

The best way to be accurately compensated by insurance claims is to keep an accurate record of your personal items, including by taking photos of and saving your receipts. If you have to file an insurance claim after a hurricane, your insurance company may even have an app available where you can upload pictures from your phone to create a home inventory.

Preserve Your Contacts 

Are all your contacts on your smartphone? If your phone runs out of battery, gets damaged, or is lost during a hurricane, you’ll want to make sure to make a list of important phone numbers in case of an emergency. Make sure to have an electronic copy of your contacts saved to the cloud, in a Google Doc, or stored safely on paper with your other important documents. 


Storm Solutions Can Help

If you have worked with Storm Solutions in the past, we have good news — even if your documents are inaccessible, we have records of the hurricane protection we have added to your home that we can quickly locate in case of damage. 

As an experienced contractor in the Naples/Marco Island, Fort Myers/Cape Coral, or Port Charlotte/Punta Gorda area, we are insured, licensed, and ready to help you when you need installation, maintenance, or repair for your windows, doors, awnings, shutters, and more. Just check our services on our website or give us a call at (239) 288-2807 for information or schedule an appointment.

Topics: Hurricane Protection, Hurricane Preparedness