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Disaster Preparedness

Take action to prepare for severe weather ahead of time. Create an emergency plan for your family and protect your home from damage. Although we can’t prevent a natural disaster, preparing for emergencies ahead of time can ensure the safety of your family and help reduce damage to your property. 

Create an Emergency Plan

Make sure your family knows what to do during an emergency.

  • Designate an emergency meeting spot and practice drills.
  • Teach all adult and teen family members how to shut off electrical, gas and water utilities.
  • Learn emergency evacuation routes.
  • Know the warning signals and alerts for your area.
  • Purchase a weather radio and/or download weather apps to stay informed of weather conditions.
  • Make a plan for pets. Consider a microchip implant, and make sure your contact information is up-to-date.

FEMA has put together a family-emergency-communication-plan. Print it out, and make disaster preparedness a family activity.

Build A Survival Kit

When disaster strikes, you may need to evacuate with very little notice. If you are stranded at home, emergency officials will be on the way to help, but they may not be able to reach you immediately. It is important to prepare both evacuation and at-home emergency kits. At minimum, each survival kit should contain the following items:

  • Water (1 gallon per person, per day)
  • Non-perishable food
  • Weather Radio
  • Flashlight
  • Batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Medications
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Manual can opener
  • Medication list and important medical information
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Pet supplies (collar, leash, carrier, food, bowl)
  • Games and activities for children
  • Extra clothing

Stock your kit with enough food, water and other essentials to last for at least 72 hours for evacuations. When preparing your at-home survival kit, be sure to maintain a 2-week supply of all items.

You should also consider making copies of the following documents to keep in each kit:

  • Medication list
  • Health records
  • Proof of address
  • Passports/birth certificates
  • Insurance policies
  • Deed/lease to home

For additional information about building an emergency kit, visit

Protect Your Family and Property From Hurricanes

Hurricane season takes place from June 1 to September 30, usually peaking in late August through September. Hurricane hazards include heavy rainfall, flooding, high winds and even tornadoes. While hurricanes cannot be prevented, the following procedures can keep your family safe and reduce damage to your property.

  • Close your windows, doors, and hurricane shutters. If you do not have hurricane shutters, use ¾ inch outdoor plywood boards for each window and door of your home.
  • Shut off all utilities (gas, electricity, water).
  • Unplug small appliances.
  • Bring in anything that can become airborne in high winds (bikes, patio furniture, flower pots).
  • Make sure your yard is free of any trees or landscaping that could become wind hazards during a storm.
  • Turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting, and keep them closed so that food stays fresh longer if the power goes out.
  • Do not use grills or store propane tanks inside the house or garage.

Review our Flood Safety section to learn what to do in the event of a flood.

Know Where to Take Shelter From Tornadoes

While most tornadoes occur in the Tornado Alley region, they can occur nearly anywhere at any time. Tornadoes can strike quickly, with little or no warning, and can accompany thunderstorms, tropical storms, and hurricanes. Peak tornado season in the southern states is March through May.

Tornado danger signs include:

  • Dark, sometimes greenish sky
  • Large hail
  • Loud, continuous roar or rumble
  • Low-lying clouds with a rotating base

If you see a tornado or any of the danger signs, take shelter immediately.
Review FEMA’s advice for shelter.

Review Your Insurance Policy

Make sure your property is adequately protected. Once a year, contact your agent to review your insurance policy. If you have made any recent purchases or renovated your property, you may need to adjust your coverage.

Additional Disaster Preparedness Resources

Visit our Severe Weather Resources section for information about government organizations, locating family members after a disaster and avoiding scams.

Home Safety Tips

Protect your family from dangers in the home. Use our guide to secure your home, learn fire safety and monitor product recalls. Our homes are more than just property. They hold priceless memories and irreplaceable items with sentimental value. 

Secure Windows and Doors

According to the FBI, more than 33% of home burglaries were the result of unlocked windows and doors in 2010. Keep all windows and doors locked, even when at home. You should also consider a home security system.

Test Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Fires spread quickly. Make sure you have working smoke alarms on every level of your home and in every bedroom. A working smoke alarm reduces the chances of dying by 50%.

Additionally, carbon monoxide poisoning can result from faulty generators, heaters, water heaters, clothes dryers and motor vehicles. You cannot see, taste or smell the gas, which can cause injury and even death with exposure.

Make a recurring calendar appointment on your phone to test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms every month, and replace the batteries every 6 months.

For more information about fire and carbon monoxide safety, visit

Prevent a Fire: Ensure Your Clothes Dryer is Properly Installed and Maintained

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 15,000 fires are sparked each year by clothes dryers or washing machines. You may be surprised to learn that the main reason clothes dryer fires occur is simply because owners fail to properly clean and maintain them. Don’t let your home become a statistic. Take these simple steps to ensure that your dryer is installed, cleaned and maintained properly.

Keep Chemicals and Fuel Away From Children

Many household products are potentially dangerous if ingested. Keep all chemicals and fuel out of reach from children by installing childproof locks and doorknobs. Another good practice is to keep all products in their original packaging, so they cannot be mistaken for food. Flammable products such as fuels and fertilizers should be kept in cabinets with guards or childproof locks.

If you suspect your child has ingested a household product, contact American Association of Poison Control Centers at 800-222-1212 immediately.

Practice Electrical Safety

Electrical fires are a leading cause of household fires every year. Discard or replace damaged electrical cords and appliances, and do not run extension cords under carpets or rugs. Cover any unused electrical outlets with plastic covers to keep children safe.

For more information about electric safety, visit the National Fire Protection Agency’s website.

Minor Product Recalls

In 2011 alone, there were over 2,300 recalls in consumer products, pharmaceuticals, medical devices and food, according to USA Today. Recalled products can result in injury or damage to personal property. Keep track of all recalls by signing up for email alerts at There are also a number of free apps available that will alert you every time there is a new recall.

Severe Weather Resources

Know what resources are available in your area in the event of a natural disaster, where to find help and avoid scams. When severe weather devastates a community, the physical and emotional damage may be overwhelming. Please review the resources below for information about disaster relief assistance.


The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is the official government agency responsible for coordinating disaster recovery in the United States and its territories. If your county is listed as a federally declared disaster, you may apply for assistance to cover losses that are not typically covered by insurance. Please visit FEMA’s website or visit for information about individual disaster recovery assistance.

American Red Cross

The American Red Cross immediately responds to natural disasters all over the United States, providing food, supplies, shelter, first aid treatment and comfort to victims. Learn more about their disaster recovery services here.

Additionally, the American Red Cross offers free mobile apps to help in the event of a disaster, including apps for first aid and finding shelter. View the list of mobile apps to download.

Locating Family After a Disaster

Both FEMA and the American Red Cross have registries to locate family members after a disaster:

  • FEMA National Emergency Registry and Locator System Fact Sheet (only activated during major disasters)
  • Red Cross Safe and Well Listings

Disaster Relief Scams

After a disaster strikes, legitimate organizations move in to raise money and assist with relief efforts. Unfortunately, scam artists take advantage of this opportunity to steal money and personal information from unsuspecting victims.

If you’re in need of aid or plan to make a donation, make sure you’re working with a legitimate charity or organization.

  • Use websites like Charity NavigatorGuideStar or CharityWatch to research established charities.
  • A legitimate charity will never ask for your personal information (bank account, social security number) via phone, email or text.
  • Be aware of emails and links that may contain viruses or malware as this could lead to stolen personal information and identity theft.

Report a Claim

We’re here to help when you need us most. Call us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to file a claim.

(866) 789-4228 (Hawaii)
(877) 234-4401 (All Other States)
(888) 481-1141 (Flood)

Home Inventory

For most people, your home is your most valuable asset. Protect your wallet by covering your home, personal belongings and your family. A very important but often forgotten task is creating a home inventory – making note of every single item you own. If you’re ever in a situation where all of your property is destroyed, it can be extremely difficult to figure out what everything is worth. Itemizing your property is also a great way to make sure you’re not underinsured and help you purchase enough insurance to cover all of your belongings.

Home Inventory Checklist

One quick way to start your home inventory is by simply writing everything down in a notebook. Go room-by-room, and make note of your personal belongings. You’ll also want to write down the value for each item. If you have receipts, save those in your notebook, too.

Living Room

  • Furniture
  • Electronics (TV, Sound System, Gaming Consoles)
  • Rugs, Window Treatments
  • Computers and accessories
  • DVDs, CDs, Games, Toys, Books
  • Artwork


  • Furniture
  • Appliances (Stove, Refrigerator, Dishwasher, Microwave)
  • Rugs, Window Treatments, Table Linens
  • Pots and pans
  • Dishes, glasses, utensils
  • Artwork


  • Furniture
  • Rugs, Window Treatments
  • Electronics
  • Clothing
  • DVDs, CDs, Games, Toys, Books
  • Artwork


  • Outdoor Furniture
  • Lawn Equipment
  • Sports gear and bicycles
  • Tools


  • Furniture
  • Trunks and Storage Boxes
  • Appliances

Special items that may need to be appraised by a professional:

  • Jewelry
  • Artwork
  • Heirlooms
  • China
  • Collector’s Items

Remember to update your inventory any time you make a big purchase.

After you’ve completed your home inventory, make a copy and keep it in a fireproof safe or bank safe-deposit box. You can also create a spreadsheet and save the information on your computer.

Photo and Video

Another way to itemize your belongings is by taking photo and video each item. Just walk through your home with your camera, and record all of your things. Save the footage on your computer, and create a backup on an external hard drive or cloud storage service.

Home Inventory Apps

If you have a smartphone or other mobile device, there are plenty of home inventory apps available to help you keep track of all your belongings.

The following websites have reviews of both free and paid home inventory mobile apps:

Flood Safety

Floods can occur anywhere and anytime. Learn the difference between watches and warnings, and know what to do in the event of a flood. Even if your home is located in an area with a low risk of flooding, there is always a chance for a flood in the future. Learn the difference between a Flood Watch and a Flood Warning and what you can do to prepare your family and home.

Flood Watches and Flood Warnings

A Flood Watch means that flooding in the area is possible. A Flood Warning means that a flood is already occurring in the area and safety measures must be taken to prevent injury and property damage. There are also Flash Flood Watches and Flash Flood Warnings, meaning the flooding is sudden and/or violent due to heavy rain or a dam break.

Before a Flood

Whether you live in a flood-prone area or not, take the following steps to protect your property ahead of time.

  • Prepare a Survival Kit.
  • Seal basement walls with waterproofing compounds.
  • Elevate your water heater, electric panel, and furnace.
  • Construct barriers to keep floodwaters from coming in to your home.
  • Talk to your agent about your insurance policy and find out if you need additional coverage.

During a Flood

If a flood is about to happen and you have time to prepare, take these steps to secure your home.

  • Turn off utilities and disconnect electric appliances. However, do not touch electric equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
  • Move important items to an upper floor, and move outdoor furniture indoors to a higher level.
  • Do not park your vehicle along bodies of water.

If a flood is already happening, safety is your number one priority.

  • If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
  • Listen to the radio or television for weather information and alerts.
  • Move to higher ground.
  • Do not walk through moving water.
  • If you are driving and come across a flooded road, Turn Around Don’t Drown®.
  • If driving and water begins to rise around your vehicle, abandon it and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. If you vehicle is trapped in moving water, stay in your vehicle. If water is rising inside, seek refuge on the roof.

People often underestimate the power of floodwaters. As little as six inches of moving water can make you fall, and two feet of water can carry away most vehicles, including trucks and SUVs.

For more information about floods, visit

You should also print a copy of the American Red Cross Flood Safety Checklist as a guide.

After a Flood

Even after a flood is over, there are still hazards. Please keep in mind the following:

  • If you are at home, listen to local alerts for information and advice from officials.
  • If you were advised to evacuate, do not return to your home until emergency officials say it is safe.
  • Stay away from damaged areas unless asked for help by emergency officials.
  • Stay out of moving or still water. Not only can you fall, but also floodwaters may be contaminated by gasoline, oil, and raw sewage. Still water may be electrically charged due to fallen or underground power lines.
  • Stay out of any building surrounded by floodwaters.
  • Do not use generators or gasoline-powered machines inside the home.

Save or print a copy of the American Red Cross Repairing Your Flooded Home to help you throughout the cleanup process.

Disaster relief assistance is available after a community has been devastated by a severe storm. Learn more about disaster relief assistance in our Weather Resources section.

Report a Claim

We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to assist you. Contact us to file a claim.

866.789.4228 (Hawaii)
877.234.4401 (All Other States)
888.481.1141 (Flood)

Water Damage

When an indoor pipe bursts and leaks through your walls and floors, it is not a pretty sight. The expenses that result from water damage can add up very quickly.

Water Damage Prevention

Proper routine maintenance and a keen eye for detail can help prevent a major plumbing issue.

  • Consider an annual plumbing inspection.
  • Keep up with routine appliance maintenance. Consult your appliance’s manual for instructions.
  • Learn where the valves are located to shut off water if a pipe bursts.
  • Insulate pipes to keep from freezing in the winter.
  • Prevent freezing pipes by allowing faucets to drip overnight. Allow warm air to circulate the plumbing by opening cabinet doors.
  • Keep an eye out for rust-colored water, backed-up plumbing, musty smells or stains on walls or ceilings.
  • Pay attention to your water bill. A sudden increase may be a sign of a leak.

Flood Damage

Generally, homeowners and renters policies do not cover damage as a result of outside flooding. Contact your insurance agent to review your policy.

Report a Claim

Contact us anytime to file a claim. We’re here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

866.789.4228 (Hawaii)
877.234.4401 (All Other States)

The purpose of this Act is to set forth the rights Alabama homeowners have with respect to their insurance policies and with insurance companies. Section 3 of the Act sets out the following minimum standards to be followed by the Alabama Department of Insurance in exercising the Department’s powers and duties in regulating insurance companies pursuant to Title 27, Chapter 12, Code of Alabama 1975:

  1. Policyholders shall have the right to competitive pricing practices of insurers as prescribed by applicable federal or state insurance law and regulation.
  2. Policyholders shall have the right to insurance advertising and sales approaches that provide representative information on the policy in accordance with Title 27, Chapter 12, Code of Alabama 1975.
  3. Policyholders shall have the right to assurance that the insurance market in general and their insurance company in particular are financially stable as provided in Section 27-12-7, Code of Alabama 1975.
  4. Policyholders shall have the right to receive service from licensed producers in accordance with Title 27, Chapter 7, Code of Alabama 1975, and to request the license status of an insurance company or producer.
  5. Policyholders shall have the right to a policy as prescribed in Title 27, Chapter 14, Code of Alabama 1975, to receive a complete policy, and to request a duplicate or replacement policy, if needed.
  6. Policyholders shall have the right to receive in writing from their insurance company the reason for any cancellation of coverage and a minimum number of days’ notice of cancellation of coverage, subject to applicable federal or state insurance law and regulation.
  7. Policyholders shall have the right to cancel their policy and receive a refund of any unearned premium. If a policy was funded by a premium finance company, the unearned premium will be returned to the premium finance company to pay toward the policyholder’s financing loan.
  8. Policyholders shall have the right to a written notification, at renewal, describing changes in their insurance contract language that are applicable to the renewal period.
  9. Policyholders shall have the right, in the event of a claim, to reject any settlement amount offered by the insurance company.
  10. Policyholders shall have the right to select their licensed contractor or vendor to repair, replace, or rebuild damaged property covered by the insurance policy.
  11. Policyholders shall have the right to file a written complaint against any insurance company with the Department of Insurance and to have that complaint reviewed by the Department of Insurance.
  12. Policyholders shall have the right to file a written complaint against any insurance producer with the Department of Insurance and to have that complaint reviewed by the Department of Insurance.