Prepare now — before disaster strikes

  • by Angie Hicks
  • Tuesday, November 19, 2013 2:27pm
  • Life

Would you know what to do if a storm or other disaster damaged or destroyed your home? Our researchers followed six families who have rebuilt, or begun to, in the aftermath of hurricane, fire, tornado, explosion and other calamities. Based on those interviews, and on conversations with highly rated service providers, our team compiled advice on dealing with a disaster:

Before a disaster

Be aware. No home is immune to catastrophe. Each year, storms and other disasters damage thousands of houses.

Maintain an inventory. Go room to room, photographing or video-recording your home and its contents. Make a list of your property and keep receipts for high-ticket items. Include approximate age, replacement cost and serial numbers for major appliances or electronics. Keep a copy of the inventory somewhere besides your home.

Review your insurance. Once a year, read through your homeowners policy. Will your policy cover the cost to replace your home and furnishings? What about cost overruns? If you can’t live in the house, will insurance pay for a hotel room or apartment? Rental furniture?

Consider a safe. Before buying a safe, be sure it’s been tested to withstand fire and water damage.

After a disaster

Don’t delay your claim. Contact your insurer immediately. If you incur expenses in protecting or repairing what you can, keep receipts to later give the insurance adjuster.

Document damage. Your cellphone may be the perfect tool for this.

Pay your mortgage. You don’t want to deal with a negative credit rating or a loan default. But check to see what’s negotiable.

Be patient. Don’t rush to settle your insurance claim. Consider contacting your state’s insurance department if you believe the settlement is unfair.

Avoid scams. Disasters attract unscrupulous vendors. Take time to interview contractors and talk to former clients.

Seek specific experience. Hire a contractor with experience in rebuilding homes.

Avoid large upfront payments. Be wary of contractors who want a lot of money before the job starts.

Angie Hicks is the founder of Angie’s List, a resource for local consumer reviews; www.angieslist.com/.

More in Life

Beer of the Week: Scuttlebutt’s Night Circus

The Everett brewery’s head brewer had nightmares trying to dial in its new coffee and coconut ale.

Viognier: French white grape gaining foothold in Washington

Viognier, the noble white grape of the northern Rhône Valley of France,… Continue reading

Curries continues home-cooked Indian cuisine at new location

The restaurant, now located on Evergreen Way, also puts an Indian spin on Northwest cooking.

New documentary chronicles Obama’s last year in White House

“The Final Year” doesn’t paint the administration in rosy colors, but it isn’t too critical either.

‘Forever My Girl’ takes a page from the Nicholas Sparks genre

The film based on a novel by Heidi McLaughlin is a well-worn tale of lost love and redemption.

Christian Bale seems to channel Clint Eastwood in ‘Hostiles’

Bale plays a U.S. cavalry captain who escorts a dying Cheyenne chief to his tribal homeland.

A visit to the nursery helps put you in the mood to garden

Not ready to get back into gardening? January is still a fun time to poke around a garden center.

Plant of Merit: Hybrid oriental hellebores, Lenten rose

What: Oriental hybrid hellebores, with the common name Lenten rose, are a… Continue reading

International guitar tour led by Lulo Reinhardt stops in Edmonds

International Guitar Night, now in its 18th year, is Jan. 24 at the Edmonds Center for the Arts.

Most Read