Natural Disasters: Have You Prepared Your Home and Business?

Steps to take before, during, and after a natural disaster.

palm trees in a natural disaster storm

As a Real Estate Asset Manager for Wells Fargo Wealth Management in Florida, Keith Tieste routinely spends the first three months of the year preparing for what might happen the last six months. Hurricane season, beginning in June, can be his busiest time of year.

"I routinely go through all of my portfolios to make sure each client has a current plan if and when a storm hits the coast," Tieste says. "When you are prepared for a storm, it is easier to take steps to protect your property and get out safely."

That means he has contractors lined up to board up homes and businesses, secure hurricane shutters, and be on call when the warnings are predicted. He makes sure his clients have individual evacuation plans to get to safety and adjusters lined up after the storm to calculate any damage.

This preparation is important to help lessen the impact of disasters on your family and your property. "The original predictions for Hurricane Irma in 2017 were devastating, and we were fortunate she took a different course and spared much of Florida. But our clients were prepared, and those who sustained damage suffered only minor loss," says Tieste. 

Much of Tieste's preparation can be applied to any property owner. Considering the potential for natural disasters across the country, property owners should take steps to prepare and to react.

Before the storm:

  • Review and confirm your insurance coverage.
  • Have your insurance advisor or asset manager schedule a dry-run inspection of your property.
  • Develop a working safety plan on how your family or employees will respond in an emergency.
  • Document pre-event property conditions through pictures.

When a storm or other emergency arises:

  • Activate your safety plan—install storm shutters and store loose items such as pool and patio furniture, etc. 
  • Coordinate boarding up or other appropriate property protection tasks.
  • Monitor the event's progress and assess the need for additional precautions.
  • Maintain contact with your asset manager or other advisor as best as possible during the event's progress.

After the storm: 

  • Provide an update to your insurance advisor or asset manager, who will contact you to make sure all persons are safe. 
  • Document post-event conditions through pictures.
  • Have your asset manager or other advisor conduct and/or arrange for in-person or proxy inspections. 
  • Have your asset manager or insurance advisor assist with relocation and temporary shelter, when appropriate.
  • Coordinate temporary repairs and arrange for permanent repairs.
  • File insurance claims, as needed.
  • Create a tracking list of claims and repairs.

Disasters can happen at any time, so there's no time like the present to help protect your family and your property with a detailed plan. According to Tieste, "Imagine trying to devise a plan with just a few days’ warning; it's easy to miss things. But if you look out months in advance, you have time to work with specialists to plan thoroughly for any emergency."

Image by iStock

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Insurance products are offered through nonbank insurance agency affiliates of Wells Fargo & Company and are underwritten by unaffiliated insurance companies. Not available in all states.

Wells Fargo & Company and its affiliates do not provide legal advice. Wells Fargo Advisors is not a tax or legal advisor. Please consult your legal and tax advisors to determine how this information may apply to your own situation. 

This information is provided for educational and illustrative purposes only.

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