If you are evacuated from your home during an emergency, here are tips that could put your mind at ease.

Before and During an Evacuation

  • Before a fire starts, make sure that anything of huge monetary value is properly insured. And make sure there's an escape plan for you and your family, and that every member of the family knows what the plan is.
  • Keep careful record of your expenses and keep all receipts. Out-of-pocket expenses during a mandatory evacuation are reimbursable under most standard homeowner policies.
  • Contact your insurance agent or company immediately and let them know where you can be reached. Contact your agent or company if you need additional living expenses while you are out of your home.
  • Take home inventories and financial documents with you when you are being evacuated. Always put safety first and leave your home immediately when asked by authorities. However, if there is sufficient time to gather items, the first thing you need to take is financial documents and your home inventory.
    • Financial and important documents that should be kept in a safe spot and grabbed during an evacuation include: banking information, insurance, stock certificates, bonds, recent tax returns, bills, checkbook, birth and marriage certificates and copies of everything in your wallet - current driver's license, insurance cards, credit and bank cards (both front and back), social security card and any other photo IDs.
  • Prepare a written or video home inventory in advance and it is kept off premises. You can also take pictures of every room in your house before you are evacuated.
  • Remember to pack up medications in their original containers, a change of clothing, and identification with your current address. Otherwise, without proper identification, you may not be allowed back into your neighborhood.
  • Think carefully about what items are easily replaceable by insurance and what items are not, like family heirlooms, keepsakes, and pictures.
  • Tell your neighbors where you will be going and exchange contact information.

When Returning from an Evacuation

  • Be prepared to give your agent or insurance representative a description of any damage. Your agent will report the loss immediately to your insurance company or a qualified adjuster. Smoke and damage from firefighting efforts (i.e. slurry damage) is covered up to your policy limits.
  • Take photos of the damaged areas. These will help with your claims process and will assist the adjuster in the investigation.
  • Prepare a detailed inventory of all damaged or destroyed personal property. Be sure to make two copies - one for yourself and one for the adjuster. Your list should be as complete as possible, including a description of the items, dates of purchase or approximate age, cost at time of purchase and estimated replacement cost.
  • Make whatever temporary repairs you can. Cover broken windows, damaged roofs and walls to prevent further destruction. Save receipts for supplies and materials you purchase. Your company will reimburse you for reasonable expenses in making temporary repairs.
  • Secure a detailed estimate for permanent repairs to your home from a reliable contractor and give it to the adjuster. The estimate should contain the proposed repairs, repair costs and replacement prices.