Preparing for a Natural Disaster

Most areas in the United States are susceptible to some form of natural disaster, whether it’s a wildfire, tornado, hurricane, earthquake, or flood. A severe storm or other catastrophic event often strikes with little warning, can result in costly damage to your home, and puts your family’s safety at risk. Being prepared may help you make it through a natural disaster safely.

Protect Your Home

Wherever you live, there are proactive steps you can take to help protect your home from natural disasters:

Have an Emergency Plan/Disaster Kit

A natural disaster can sometimes cause power outages that last for days. It can also result in downed power lines, fallen trees, and/or flooding that make roads impassable. Know evacuation routes and have an emergency plan that identifies a safe place to meet in the event that family members become separated. Keep important addresses and phone numbers accessible, and identify a place where you can safely stay for an extended period of time if necessary. In addition, assemble a disaster kit with the following items:

U.S. Natural Catastrophe Economic Losses, 2021 (in billions)

U.S. natural catastrophe economic losses in 2021 were $79.53 billion for tropical cyclones; $37.25 billion for severe convective storms; $24.79 billion for winter storms; $20.36 billion for wildfires, drought, and heat waves; and $7.02 billion for flooding.
Source: Insurance Information Institute, 2022

Review Your Insurance Coverage

Review all of your insurance policies (e.g., homeowners, renters, and auto) to make sure that you have appropriate coverage for your property and belongings. Your home and its contents should be insured to their full replacement cost, including any new additions, remodels, and furniture. Be sure to take pictures/videos and make an inventory of your home and valuables in case they are damaged or destroyed. Keep in mind that certain types of damage (e.g., flood and earthquake) are generally excluded from a standard homeowners policy, but separate coverage is often available. Contact your insurance agent to determine if you need to purchase additional insurance tailored to the risks in your area.

If your home suffers severe damage from a natural disaster, you’ll need to file a claim with your insurance company. Take pictures to document the damage (both inside and outside of your home) as soon as possible. While your claim is being processed, take steps to prevent further damage (e.g., putting a tarp on a damaged roof), since the insurance company may not cover anything beyond the initial damage to your property.