catastrophe preparation

Helpful information for when the unpredictable occurs.

wind blows trees during storm
Because nature is a fickle friend, let us help you prepare for the worst and sleep a little easier. These valuable tips can proactively keep you, your family, and your possessions as safe as possible.

It’s good to review your policy with your local independent agent for a detailed explanation of your coverage as it relates to natural disaster catastrophes. Call 1-800-332-3226 to file a claim if you have experienced catastrophe-related damage. Learn more about natural disaster claims.

+Hailstorms-HailstormsHailstorms
Hail can come on quickly and pack a lasting punch. It’s important to protect your home and know what to do after damage occurs.

More About Hailstorms
+Tornadoes-TornadoesTornadoes
In an average year, 800 tornadoes are reported nationwide. Homes close to a tornado are often damaged or destroyed by wind, rain, and flying debris.

Before a Tornado

You can’t make your home or business tornado-proof, but you can take steps that improve the odds of surviving the high winds. You may want to call on professionals for the more technical jobs.

  • Start at the top, your roof. Fix any areas that need repair. If you are planning to replace your roof, select materials that are designed to withstand high wind.
  • If you are planning to replace your windows, select impact-resistant window systems, which have a much better chance of surviving a major windstorm.
  • Anchor door frames securely to wall framing. Make certain your doors have at least three hinges and a deadbolt security lock with a bolt at least one inch long.
During a Tornado

  • If a tornado is headed your way and you are in a building, move to an underground shelter or interior room or hallway on the lowest floor.
  • Stay away from windows and corners.
  • If you’re in your car, get out immediately and find safe shelter or lie flat in a ditch. Do not take shelter under an overpass or a bridge.
  • Flying debris causes most injuries and fatalities, so use your arms to protect your head and neck.
After a Tornado

Heavy rain is often a part of tornadoes and windstorms. The longer your home is exposed to water, the more damage you’ll see to your roof, ceiling, walls and floors, as well as any personal belongings you have inside. It’s important to take some steps to protect yourself and your property from any further damage after a tornado.

  • Board up broken windows and doors.
  • Cover roof damage with tarps or plywood and remove debris.
  • Move any wet items to a dry area.
  • If possible, place any damaged items in a safe, secure area where they can be inspected later.
  • Save receipts for any temporary repair expenses.
  • Cover broken car windows with tarps or plastic sheeting.
Review your policy with your local independent agent for detailed coverage explanations and call 1-800-332-3226 to file a claim if you have experienced tornado-related damage.
+Winter Weather-Winter WeatherWinter Weather
Along with winter come cozy evenings by the fire and trips to the slopes. But, winter weather also brings a number of risks for you, your family, and your property. Pipes can burst, fireplaces can cause smoke and other damage, and roofs can strain under the load of snow and ice.

Before Winter Arrives

  • Winter-proof your car with good snow tires or chains, new wiper blades, antifreeze and emergency road supplies.
  • Keep your attic cool to help prevent ice dams.
  • Insulate the attic floor and make sure it’s well ventilated.
  • Don’t overload circuits with holiday decorations.
  • Keep your home stocked with emergency supplies, including food and flashlights.
  • Hire a professional to inspect, clean and repair your fireplace and chimney, if needed, to reduce fireplace risks.
  • Sign up for mobile weather alerts.
  • Ensure all family members have proper cold weather gear.
  • Service your furnace, snow blower, and generator, if needed.
  • If your heating source requires any type of fuel, be sure to stock up.
  • Make sure fire extinguishers are on hand and that all family members know how to use them.
During a Winter Storm

  • If you don’t have to drive, stay put.
  • If you must drive, make sure you’ve winterized your car and have a full tank of gas and a fully charged phone.
  • When the air’s cold, keep bath and kitchen cabinet doors open so warm air can circulate around pipes.
  • If pipes do freeze, let them thaw normally as they’ll be less likely to burst.
  • If the power is out, make sure you don’t leave candles or fires burning unattended.
  • If you use a portable generator, follow the instructions, and don’t use it indoors.
  • Ensure any animals on your property are safe.
After a Winter Storm

Once the worst of the storm is over and you’ve ensured your family and pets are safe, take steps to:

  • Shovel your sidewalk so your property is safe for others, but take frequent breaks and drink plenty of water to avoid overexertion.
  • Check on neighbors and senior family members who may require help.
  • Clear off fire hydrants and the surrounding area to be sure hydrants are visible to firefighters.
  • Reduce the strain of snow accumulation on top of structures, if possible to safely do so with a roof rake.
  • Tune in to radio or TV broadcasts for information on road and weather conditions.
  • Completely brush or scrape snow and ice off your car before driving.
  • Conserve heat by keeping curtains or blinds closed and by closing the doors to rarely used rooms, especially if your heat source goes out.
  • If you’re active outdoors, cover your body from head to toe and change out of any wet clothes immediately.
  • Ensure outdoor animals have adequate shelter and water that is not frozen.
  • Find temporary shelter, if needed, by texting SHELTER and your zip code to 43362 (4FEMA).
Review your policy with your local independent agent for detailed coverage explanations and call 1-800-332-3226 to file a claim if you have experienced winter storm-related damage. Learn more about winter weather claims.
+Earthquakes-EarthquakesEarthquakes
Earthquakes are not just limited to the West Coast. They can happen in just about any state in the United States. However, if you live in an area more likely to have an earthquake, make sure to talk to your local independent agent about whether you are covered for earthquakes or if you should purchase separate coverage. Also be sure to discuss home improvements that can make your home eligible for an earthquake endorsement or policy. California, Oregon, and Washington residents must purchase a separate earthquake policy.

Know What Your Insurance Covers and How Much You Need

  • Deductibles and the amount of coverage for earthquake damage vary by state.
  • Your policy may not cover the entire cost of rebuilding.
  • Exterior buildings, decks and landscaping are generally not covered.
Before an Earthquake

To reduce damage inside, think heads up. Look at your ceiling and walls to see what might fall.

  • Anchor bookcases and filing cabinets to walls.
  • Secure ceiling lights, suspended ceilings, and other hanging items to the building structure.
  • Anchor water heaters and large appliances to walls using safety cables or straps, and lock the rollers of all appliances and furniture.
  • Fit all gas appliances with flexible connections and breakaway gas shut-off devices or install a main gas shut-off device.
  • Consider working with a registered design professional or licensed building contractor to reduce potential damage to the structure of your home or business.
  • Add anchor bolts or steel plates between your home’s structure and foundation.
  • Brace the inside of your home’s cripple wall with sheathing.
  • Brace unreinforced chimneys, masonry, concrete walls, and foundations.
During an Earthquake

  • If you’re indoors, stay there.
  • Move away from windows, skylights, doors, and things that could fall.
  • Duck, cover, and hold until the shaking stops.
  • If you’re outdoors, move quickly into the open, away from electrical lines, trees, and buildings.
  • Drop to the ground and wait for the shaking to stop.
  • If you’re driving, slowly bring your vehicle to a stop at the side of the road.
  • Don’t stop on or under bridges, under power lines or near roadway signs.
  • After the shaking has stopped, continue driving but watch out for damage to the road.
After an Earthquake

It’s important to take some steps to protect yourself and your home from further damage after an earthquake.

  • Clean up broken glass and remove debris.
  • Board up broken windows and doors.
  • Cover any roof damage with tarps or plywood.
  • If possible, put damaged items in a safe, secure area where they can be inspected later.
  • Save all receipts from any temporary repairs.
Review your policy with your local independent agent for detailed coverage explanations and call 1-800-332-3226 to file a claim if you have experienced earthquake-related damage.
+Hurricanes-HurricanesHurricanes
We’ve all seen the dramatic effect hurricanes can have, both the initial wind and rain and the floods and devastation that follow. There are steps you can take to stay safe and reduce damage to your property in the event of a storm.

Note that neither home nor business insurance covers flood damage from a hurricane, including floods from storm surges. Your local independent agent can help you purchase a policy through the National Flood Insurance Program.

Before a Hurricane

  • Install storm shutters.
  • Remove yard debris, such as dead tree limbs, that could become flying missiles.
  • Have a safe place to park your cars and/or store your boat.
  • Make sure you, your family and/or employees know how to shut off utilities.
  • Look through your emergency kit to ensure it is fully stocked and up to date with necessities for all household members, including pets.
  • Back up computer records and store them at least 50 miles offsite.
  • Gather important papers to take with you if you must evacuate, including inventory lists and insurance information.
During a Hurricane

  • Know your community’s evacuation plan and, if asked to evacuate, do so immediately.
  • Stay inside and away from windows, skylights, and glass doors. Avoid elevators.
  • Avoid washed out and wet roads that can hide downed electrical lines or underlying currents that can carry your vehicle away.
After a Hurricane

Water is a major cause of damage after hurricanes. The longer your house is exposed to water, the more damage you’ll see to your roof, ceiling, walls, and floors, as well as any personal belongings inside. After the storm has passed, it’s important to dry out any water damaged inside your home.

  • Open windows and doors to allow air to circulate and speed up the drying process.
  • Clean up any broken glass and remove debris.
  • Board up broken windows and doors.
  • Cover roof damage with tarps or plywood.
  • Save receipts for any temporary repair expenses.
  • Cover broken car windows with tarps or plastic sheeting.
  • Move any wet items to a dry place.
  • If possible, place any damaged items in a safe, secure area where they can be inspected later.
Review your policy with your local independent agent for detailed coverage explanations and call 1-800-332-3226 to file a claim if you have experienced hurricane-related damage.
+Wildfires-WildfiresWildfires
While wildfires happen more frequently in the western United States, nearly every state has been devastated by fires in the last century. And each year, hundreds of homes are destroyed as more people choose to live closer to nature.

Before a Wildfire

  • Create a defensible space, at least a 30-foot noncombustible zone around your home.
  • Choose fire-resistant plants and trees.
  • Remove or prune low-hanging tree branches.
  • Cut grass and weeds regularly and keep your roof and yard clean, especially from dry yard debris.
  • Stack wood piles or other burnable materials at least 30 feet from your home or other buildings on your property.
  • Keep signs and addresses visible so firefighters can easily locate your property.
  • Rate your roof. Is it fire-resistant?
  • Recycle yard debris and branches instead of burning.
During a Wildfire

  • If a wildfire starts in your area, monitor local news reports for evacuation procedures.
  • Prepare for evacuation by turning off gas valves and pilot lights, closing all windows and doors, and packing your car for quick departure if there is time and it is safe to do so.
  • Return to a burned area only when local authorities have instructed you to do so.
After a Wildfire

  • Stay out of burned or smoke damaged buildings.
  • Wear protective clothing including sturdy shoes, long pants, a long sleeve shirt, and gloves.
  • Avoid breathing ashes and soot by covering your nose and mouth with a handkerchief or face mask.
  • Watch out for broken glass, sharp objects and exposed electrical wires.
  • Listen to the local radio for up-to-date information.
  • If you were evacuated, don’t return home until local authorities say it’s safe for you to do so.
  • Check your roof immediately for burning embers.
  • Inspect your entire property for signs of burning embers.
  • Put out any sparks or burning embers if you can do so safely.
  • Call the fire department if necessary.
Review your policy with your local independent agent for detailed coverage explanations and call 1-800-332-3226 to file a claim if you have experienced wildfire-related damage.
+Create a Disaster Preparedness Kit-Create a Disaster Preparedness KitCreate a Disaster Preparedness Kit
At any time of the year an incident could knock out power to your house, your neighborhood, your entire town. Would you be able to live off of what you already have at home?

While you don’t think about disaster supplies every day, they’re vital to have. Use this checklist to help you put together a disaster preparedness kit or update the one you already have.

Food and Water
A good rule of thumb is to keep a two-week supply of nonperishable food (don’t forget the can opener) and bottled water for you and your family. You typically want one gallon of water per person, per day. Store it all in a safe, dry place.

Medications and First-Aid
Stock your emergency kit with both medications that you and other family members take daily (enough for at least a week) as well as supplies, such as bandages, antiseptic ointment, and fever reducers to help you treat injuries and illness.

Pet Supplies
Your pets will need food and water, so always keep extra on hand for them. Don’t forget any medications they may need.

Flashlights
Store extra batteries along with your flashlights or lanterns. Or, choose a hand-crank flashlight instead. Just check regularly that it’s in good working order.

Portable Radio
A hand-crank radio is another must and allows you to tune in to emergency broadcasts.

Blankets and Clothing
If you’re without power during inclement weather, you’ll appreciate having some extra clothes, socks, undergarments, hats, gloves, and blankets on hand. Don’t forget a blanket for your pets.

Personal Items
Think things such as baby wipes, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, and more.

Paperwork
Having copies of important paperwork, such as passports and insurance policies, comes in handy if you need to evacuate your home. Also have contact information for family members and emergency providers.

Tools
A multipurpose tool may be all you need, but also think about including things you might take camping, such as a small axe or pliers.

Other Supplies
Matches, maps, cash, breathing masks, a whistle, a compass, a tarp – there are plenty of other things you can add to your emergency preparedness kit. Use your family’s needs as a guide. It might not hurt to throw in a pack of cards or activity books to help keep kids occupied during long stretches.

It may seem a little daunting to set all this aside, much less make it all portable in case you need to leave your home. But, if the need ever arises, you’ll be glad you planned ahead. Your disaster supplies may even save your life one day, so be sure to check periodically that you have everything you need and to replace expired items.