Disaster Preparedness: Know Your Risk

July 23, 2020

Natural disasters can occur suddenly and without warning, but being prepared will help you weather the storm.

No matter where you call home, there are steps you can take to protect you and your family before a threat is imminent.

Determine your Disaster Risk

Natural disasters, such as hurricanes and wildfires, are more likely to occur in certain geographical locations because of weather patterns and regional characteristics. To protect your home and your family, it’s important that you learn about the most common natural disasters where you live. Below are helpful resources:

  • Local emergency management office: Contact your local office to learn more about the disasters that may strike your community, the risks you face from these hazards and your community’s plans for warning and evacuation.
  • Risk assessment tools: FEMA’s website provides maps, tools and tips to help you plan ahead if you live in a high-risk area.
  • Are You Ready Guide?: This FEMA guide has the most up-to-date disaster preparedness information for hazards such as floods, fires, tornados, earthquakes and hurricanes.

Understand your Insurance

Whether you rent or own, having adequate homeowners or renters insurance will ensure that you're protected in times of need. The extent of your insurance coverage will depend on where you live and what types of disasters your area may be at risk for. Read your insurance policy carefully to learn what it does and does not cover, to help ensure that you adequately repair your home after a natural disaster.

Standard homeowners insurance policies cover a wide variety of situations, but you may need to add disaster-specific coverage to your policy. For example, floods and earthquakes often require additional insurance protection.

This applies to renters as well. Flooding is not generally covered by renters insurance, so if you rent in an area at risk of flooding, consider a separate flood insurance policy in addition to your current renters insurance.

Talk with your insurance agent to make sure you have the right type and amount of coverage for your personal situation. Because policies vary, it’s important that you work with a trusted professional to answer questions about your policy so you aren't blindsided during the recovery process.

Take Inventory

When picking your insurance policy, you should take inventory of your property to ensure that you have enough coverage to replace your personal possessions. If you make home improvements, you should make sure your policy reflects the current value of your home.

Consider creating a home inventory list and taking photos of your home on a regular basis. Having this list on hand will help you keep your insurance policy updated and will help expedite the claims process should disaster strike.

Should you need to evacuate your home, be sure to bring your inventory list with all other important documents to fast track your recovery.

If you are impacted by a disaster, following these steps will help you get back to normal more quickly. For more resources and information visit FEMA.gov and the Getting Help section on My Home by Freddie Mac®.