Prepare now for a natural disaster

The Florida woman in the televised interview sounded dumbfounded. She knew she had to clean up after Hurricane Irma ravaged her property. She just didn’t know where to begin.

That’s a good question to contemplate now, even while the weather is calm in Ohio. Nine years ago this month, the remnants of Hurricane Ike blew through our state, causing $1.2 billion in insured losses. It remains the costliest natural disaster in Ohio history.

That damage figure points to a good place to plan on starting. That damage figure only includes insured losses.

Thus, if you suffer property damage due to a storm, call your insurance company ASAP. Make sure your insurance agent knows how to contact you, too.

Next, the Ohio Department of Insurance says, you should:

• Take reasonable steps to prevent more damage — if permitted by public safety authorities and if you will not endanger yourself.  Call your local utility to let them know of any downed power lines. Do not try to move power lines that have fallen on your property.

• Closely inspect property and cars for damage. Note and photograph any damage.

• If required to seek temporary housing, check your policy for “loss of use” coverage.

• Be sure everything is considered in your claim. Back up claims with written estimates.

If you aren’t certain what your insurance covers or if you don’t have coverage, we repeat the advice above: Call an insurer. Now.

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