March 14, 2012

Severe Weather Awareness Week: Missouri Department of Insurance encourages consumers to be prepared

Consumers should review their policies and make a home inventory

Jefferson City, Mo. - Severe weather arrived early this year as deadly storms produced tornadoes and high winds that did significant damage across the southern parts of Missouri on Leap Day. As a part of Severe Weather Awareness Week, the Missouri Department of Insurance urges consumers to review their policies, make sure they have adequate coverage and prepare a list of their belongings.

Homeowners insurance

Policy limits on homes and belongings can become outdated. A homeowners insurance policy that's more than five years old may not cover the entire cost associated with rebuilding a home or replacing lost or damaged possessions. Homeowners should make it a habit to review their policy limits annually to ensure they are better protected from unpredictable events. Get more information.

Renters insurance

Most renters forego this type of insurance because they assume their landlord's insurance will cover any damage or loss to their belongings. However, landlords typically have a policy that only insures the building they own, not their tenants' possessions.

If you are renting an apartment, condo or house, consider renters insurance. With premiums averaging $8-21 per month for $20,000 to $30,000 worth of coverage, renters insurance is an affordable way to protect your belongings. Get more information.

Prepare a home inventory

The department also strongly encourages consumers to prepare a list of their belongings. A home inventory can help determine the level of coverage needed before disaster strikes, and it can make it easier to file a claim.

There are several ways to start building a home inventory. The Department of Insurance offers a free home inventory booklet. If you are using an electronic or paper spreadsheet, remember to take pictures of your belongings, and save them, along with your home inventory, in a safe, fireproof place.

You can also download the free home inventory app for iPhone or Android smartphones. The app guides you through capturing images, descriptions, bar codes and serial numbers, and then stores them electronically for safekeeping. The app even creates a backup file for email sharing.

What's not covered

A standard homeowners and renters insurance policy doesn't protect your home or belongings from damage associated with floods, earthquakes or sewer and drain backup. Ask your agent if you need this additional coverage.

To be covered by flood insurance, consumers need a policy through the National Flood Insurance Program. Policies have a 30-day waiting period before they're effective. For more information about flood insurance, visit floodsmart.gov or call 888-379-9531.

For other tips about preparing for severe weather, visit the Department of Insurance's severe weather page. To learn more about Severe Weather Awareness Week in Missouri, visit sema.dps.mo.gov.

About the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions & Professional Registration

The Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration (DIFP) is responsible for consumer protection through the regulation of financial industries and professionals. The department's seven divisions work to enforce state regulations both efficiently and effectively while encouraging a competitive environment for industries and professions to ensure consumers have access to quality products.

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