Former Senior Counsel to the Maryland Insurance Administration Gives Critical Preparation Tips As Hurricane Sandy Approaches

BALTIMORE, Oct. 27, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Alex Brown, former Senior Counsel to the Maryland Insurance Administration, has prepared valuable tips for home and business owners as Hurricane Sandy barrels towards shore.  Insurance companies, professionals and policyholders routinely call on Alex, an insurance attorney and partner with Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White, to guide them through government investigations and to represent them in administrative litigation.  Silverman Thompson Slutkin & White, a firm of thirty top trial and appellate attorneys representing clients in all aspects of civil and criminal litigation in both state and federal courts, is known nationwide for successful litigation of complex and high profile cases.

Alex routinely appears on television and radio to explain insurance policies and issues to consumers and has a wealth of valuable information.

By using the tips and tools listed below for insurance coverage, property protection, home inventory, emergency supply kits and evacuation plans, people will be better prepared for Hurricane Sandy. 

Step 1: Review Your Insurance Coverage
Review your insurance coverage so you know what's covered. Here are some questions you may want to discuss with an agent before the storm hits:

  • Is your coverage up to date?
  • Do you have coverage for additional living expenses?
  • Do you have coverage for floods?
  • Do you have enough coverage for your valuables?
  • Do you have comprehensive car coverage?

Step 2: Protect Your Property In The Best Way You Can
Alex says there's no technology that can thwart the destructive force of a hurricane.  But through the right kind of preparation, he says you can reduce the damage it might cause to your property. 

Things to Do in Advance of a Storm

  • Assess your property to ensure landscaping and trees do not become wind hazards and remove any diseased or damaged limbs from trees.  This will help keep them from blowing around during a storm.
  • Pre-select a garage or carport to park your car in or an area of higher ground to move your car to in case of flooding.
  • Consider building a safe room in you home to withstand high winds and flying debris. 

Things You Can Do Right Before a Storm

  • Secure buildings by closing and boarding up windows.  Remove outside antennas.
  • Bring all lawn furniture, outdoor Halloween decorations, trash cans, hanging plants and anything else that could be picked up by the wind inside.  Anchor objects that cannot be brought inside.
  • Move your car to a garage, a carport or an area of higher ground in the case of flooding.
  • If you must leave your car outdoors, park as close to a building as possible.  Move your car away from trees or poles that may topple onto it.
  • Make sure you fill your car's gas tank.
  • Get emergency cash.
  • Turn your refrigerator to its coldest setting. 

Step 3. Conduct a Home Inventory
Conducting a home inventory is one of the best ways to recover from hurricane damage.  It allows you to keep a record of what you own, which will simplify the process of sorting through damaged items should you need to file a claim. 

Ways to Conduct Your Home Inventory
Move from room to room recording the value of each of your possessions.  It is also helpful to keep track of model numbers and stores where you purchased each item.  Here are methods you can use:

  • Notepad and camera - as you take photographs, write down the details of each item.
  • Video camera - this is an easy method because you can narrate the details of each item while videotaping.
  • Personal computer - personal finance software packages often include a home inventory program.

Tips on Conducting Your Own Home Inventory

  • Make sure you record the contents of closets, drawers and cabinets.  The value of little things can add up quickly
  • Store all lists, photographs and videotapes in a safe place off the premises.  It is a good idea to keep back-ups as well.
  • Update your home inventory.  After making a significant purchase, be sure to add the information to your home inventory while it is still fresh in your mind.
  • Keep all receipts, especially for big items such as jewelry, furs and collectibles.  Also keep in mind that valuable items may need separate insurance coverage.  Check with your agent.

Step 4: Getting Your Insurance Claim Paid

* Keep in contact with your insurance company. If you are not able to stay in your home, make sure the company has an address and phone number where it can reach you.

* Inventory and document your losses: Take pictures of items before they're destroyed or taken away for repairs, and of your lot before it gets cleared (if applicable.) Create detailed lists of damaged property. If your home was seriously damaged or completely destroyed, get at least one, ideally two, independent repair/replacement cost estimates.

* Make only temporary repairs. The company may deny your claim if you make permanent repairs before it inspects. So, if you're not sure whether your company considers a repair to be permanent, ask your company (in writing) before starting any repair work. The cost of these repairs and for storing personal belongings is likely covered by your policy.

* Be present for the inspection. It's a good idea to be home when the adjuster performs his or her inspection. Feel free to ask your contractor to be there with you to discuss estimates with the adjuster or the company.

* Keep all receipts. You must provide evidence that you bought replacement items and incurred expenses due to losing the use of all or part of your property. Receipts will help you get reimbursed more quickly for out of pocket expenses.

Other important steps to keep safe during the storm:

Develop a family disaster plan before the storm hits

The most important thing you and your family can do is to be prepared. A good plan will help ensure that your family knows what to do if the worst should happen. Some simple steps include:

  • Discuss the types of hazards that could affect your family. Know your home's vulnerability to flooding and wind.
  • Locate the safest areas of your home - or - the safest place in your community in case of a hurricane.
  • Determine escape routes from your home and places to meet.
  • Have an out-of-state friend or family contact, so all your family members have a single point of contact.
  • Post emergency numbers by your phones.
  • Have a plan for what to do with your pets if you need to evacuate. This includes having a pet carrier for each animal, if applicable. Make sure your pet has a collar with identification and that you have a recent photo in case it gets lost.

Create a disaster supply kit today
The following list contains items you can pack early and have ready in case of an emergency:

  • Water
  • First Aid kit and medicines
  • Non-perishable food items, snacks and disposable utensils
  • Blankets and pillows
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • A battery-operated, weather band radio
  • A small tool set
    • Also, keep a full tank of gas in your car in case you need to evacuate immediately.

Have a place to go
While creating your family disaster plan, one item that should be discussed is where to go when you evacuate.

Here a few things to consider while preparing to evacuate:

  • Do not delay your departure. As soon as an evacuation order is given, leave immediately.
  • Keep your travel distance to a minimum. Try to select an evacuation destination that is nearest to your home. Remember that hotels and other commercial destinations could fill up quickly, especially in storm that affects a large area.
  • Be patient while traveling. Evacuations caused by extreme weather will probably cause massive delays and congestion.
  • If staying at a hotel, make reservations before you leave. The longer you wait to make a reservation, the less likely you will find a vacancy.

About Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White

Maryland based law firm Silverman Thompson Slutkin & White, an AV rated law firm by Martindale-Hubbell, is widely regarded as one of the premier litigation firms in the mid-Atlantic region. The firm has achieved extraordinary success for their clients across Maryland and throughout the United States.

Each of our thirty seasoned attorneys spends hundreds, if not thousands of hours in the courtroom each year. Our clients uniquely benefit from representation by lawyers who practice law on the front lines not the sidelines. For more information, please call our office at 410-385-2225 or visit our website at www.mdattorney.com.

SOURCE Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White



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