Safety Tips for Severe Weather

A storm can be thrilling to watch, but knowing when to take action and seek shelter could save your life in the case of a severe storm. As we go through another storm season, keep these safety and awareness tips top of mind when bracing for severe weather. 

Understand Storm Alerts 

Weather services label storms with a “watch” or “warning” to describe the potential threat to an area. A “watch” means conditions could potentially lead to the development of a storm. A “warning” means a storm has already developed and has been spotted nearby. Most times, a warning warrants taking shelter immediately. 

When assigning watches and warnings, the National Weather Service typically uses county names to inform people of the location. This means that knowing the name of your county and surrounding counties will be helpful in identifying when a storm may be approaching your area. 

Prepare your Home 

There are many precautions you can take to protect and prepare your home for storm season. Consider the following preparations if a severe storm prediction is in your area and you have time: 

  • Identify your sheltering place. If you don’t have a storm shelter, take cover in an interior room with no windows that is on the ground level. 
  • Charge your phones and computers before the storm is near in case you lose power.
  • Bring the pets inside to ensure their safety.
  • Bring in any outdoor furniture that could be blown around or damaged. 
  • Close and shutter windows.
  • Unplug high-dollar appliances and computers in case of a power surge. 
  • Have an emergency plan and ensure all members of the household are aware of it. 

Stock up on Supplies

Make sure to have non-perishable emergency supplies, like batteries, first aid supplies, a flashlight, a portable weather radio and a three-day supply of water and food. While you’re stocking up on emergency supplies, it’s also beneficial to compile a grocery list of non-perishable food. One can never be sure of the extent of damage a storm may cause, so being prepared for the worst-case scenario is the best case. 

What to Avoid

Avoid using corded phones, electrical equipment, and even doing the dishes or taking a shower during a storm. Lightning can travel through lines, electrical systems and plumbing. According to the CDC, about one-third of injuries caused by a lightning strike happen indoors. Also, be sure to stay away from windows, doors and concrete walls or floors. Most are reinforced by metal bars or webbing, which could allow lightning to travel through. 

What to do During and After a Storm

As a storm is passing through, try to stay calm and alert. Make sure to take cover in your designated shelter if your area is under a warning. Be mindful that many facilities and hospitals will not be able to offer public shelter during severe weather at this time due to social distancing practices. Have a place in mind that you know you can access for safety. If your power goes out, use your phone or radio to listen for updates on the location and severity of the storm. 

After a storm passes, watch out for downed power lines, fallen tree branches and other debris that could be around. Once you’ve checked for damage and feel safe, be sure to check in on friends and loved ones that may have sustained damage as well. 

Preparing for storm season is the best thing you can do to ensure your safety. Talk to your agent to make sure your personal property is covered in the case of storm damage.

Home Inventory 101

Not only is your home one of your most valuable possessions, but it’s also where you keep some of your most valuable items. In the case of a disaster, like fire or theft, having a completed home inventory can ensure that all your belongings are accounted for. It can also get you back on track to normal life as soon as possible. 

Save Time and Money

A home inventory is a detailed list of everything in your home, and it can help determine the right amount of Homeowners Insurance you need. If you don’t have one completed and lose some of your personal items, you might not get a proper reimbursement to cover the items. Overall, it has the power to save you time and money in the event of a claim. By outlining all your items ahead of time to help verify any losses, it can speed up the process. 

How to Make an Inventory List

You can create a list manually with pen and paper, or digitally using Excel, Google Sheets or home inventory app. One way to start is to go room by room and make a detailed list of everything you own. With each item, include a description, serial number, approximate date of purchase and estimated value. Do not skip the small items, like towels or holiday decorations. The cost of replacing these types of items can add up, too. 

For clothes and shoes, we recommend assigning an approximate holistic value instead of going item by item. However, in the case of valuable jewelry, consider getting an appraisal to be sure your items are insured properly. Additionally, don’t skip over storage places like the basement or attic, closets and the garage. Often, people forget about the expensive tools and supplies they store in these spots when completing a home inventory.  

Keep it Updated 

Between home renovations and replacing or upgrading items, it is important to continually update your home inventory. Plan to do a yearly review to add or remove any items that may have changed. 

Safe Storage 

Remember to keep a hard copy and digital version of your home inventory to ensure you don’t lose your list of assets and personal possessions. Make sure to store it in a safe and secure place. If you leave it in your home and your home is damaged by a storm, the list is gone too. Keeping it at a family member’s place, a safe, deposit box or flash drive are a few good options for storage. 

Protecting and insuring your home and personal belongings is your priority as well as ours. Contact your OKFB agent to make sure you have the right amount of protection in place, or for guidance in completing your home inventory. 

Keeping Your Home Protected, Inside and Out

Whether you’re a new homeowner or are looking to protect additional items, you need a policy that covers your needs. Understanding what a basic homeowners policy does and does not include is important. That way, you know what additional coverage you should consider. Keep reading for tips and tricks on how to find the right fit for protecting your home, inside and out. 

What’s the difference between Homeowners Insurance and Personal Property Insurance? 

In areas where your homeowners policy may be lacking, additional personal property coverage can help ensure your high-dollar valuables are protected. 

Homeowners Insurance will cover various items inside and outside of your home. However, there are limitations to what items and under what circumstances they will be covered. This is where personal property coverage comes in handy. It protects personal belongings inside your home in the event of damages or theft. This includes specific, high-value items, like jewelry, firearms, furs, collectibles, silverware, gold, musical instruments and more. 

For what situations should I consider additional insurance beyond my homeowners policy?

  • Home-based businesses. If your business inventory got ruined or a customer fell in your home, your standard homeowners policy might not cover it. Be sure to talk to your agent about commercial coverage to keep your work and clients safe.
  • Outbuildings. The tree house you built for your kids or the shed you have for more storage are typically limited in standard home coverage. Check with your agent to see if you should get additional structure coverage to have your hard work and personal items protected. 

How do I ensure my home is protected in case of Earthquake and/or Flood?

You may assume you’re covered under your standard homeowners policy from these natural events, but that might not be the case. In reality, these natural disasters require their own policy additions. If you live in a flood or earthquake prone area, talk to your agent about these other insurance options. 

A good Home Insurance Policy coupled with the right amount of additional coverage can help ensure your home and valuable assets stay protected through the ups and downs. Contact an agent today to see how much coverage you may need.

8 Common Car Insurance Myths

There’s a lot of misinformation that circulates about Car Insurance. To help separate fact from fiction and ensure you’re on top of your Auto Insurance, we’re debunking the following 8 common myths.  

Myth #1: The color of my car paint impacts my Auto Insurance premium

The color of your car has no impact on the price of your premium. Some features that do impact your premium include the car’s make, model, body type, year, engine size, etc. With this in mind, feel free to drive the car color of your dreams. 

Myth #2: I only need the minimum Auto Insurance required by law

It’s true that you only need the state’s minimum level of Auto Insurance to drive legally in Oklahoma. However, purchasing the minimum level is usually not the best choice. If you are at fault in an accident and the other party sues you for damage, you may have to use your own money to pay any losses that exceed what the minimum level of coverage protects. Talk to an agent to see how much coverage you may need based on your vehicle. 

Myth #3: Personal Auto Insurance will cover business use of my car

Using your car for commercial reasons comes with its own set of risks. You may need to look into getting Commercial Vehicle Insurance in order to ensure that you, your employees and your inventory are protected.

Myth #4: Comprehensive and collision coverage are the same

Comprehensive coverage and collision coverage protect your vehicle in different circumstances. Comprehensive coverage pays for damage to your car sustained by incidents not related to a collision. Some examples include hail, flood, falling tree limbs, break-ins, vandalism, and run-ins with deer. Collision coverage pays for damage to your car by a collision with another vehicle, tree, pole, pothole, or guardrail.

Myth #5: My insurance will pay off my loan or lease if I total my car

If an accident totals your car, your Car Insurance will pay what the market says your car was worth before the accident – the Actual Cash Value (ACV). Most commonly because of depreciation, a driver with a loan on their vehicle will owe more on the vehicle than the vehicle’s ACV, leaving the driver with the responsibility of the difference. Talk to an agent about extra coverage options to fill in this gap.

Myth #6: Auto Insurance includes towing or other assistance I may need on the roadside

A typical auto policy does not include this coverage, but you can add a Roadside assistance option to your policy. Roadside assistance will pay for costs associated with towing your disabled vehicle. Additionally, other services needed may be covered, like gas for an empty tank, battery jumping and changing a flat on-site.

Myth #7: Auto Insurance will pay for a rental car after an accident

Many people believe that car insurance will pay for a rental car after an accident. Unless you have a rental car reimbursement on your policy then typically your insurance will not pay for a rental. Luckily, this is an easy addition to make to your policy. 

Myth #8: A ticket will always increase my Auto Insurance premium

Insurance companies consider a number of factors beyond a speeding or driving ticket to set auto premiums. Drivers with speeding tickets may be considered higher risk, and may be charged more for Auto Insurance premiums. On the other hand, if the driver is over the age of 25 and has not had a similar violation in the last three years, the premium may not be raised, as long as the person avoids getting another violation. The best course of action is to drive safely at all times. 

Keep these facts in mind to stay protected and prepared for any auto-related incident. Contact your OKFB agent to be sure that your policy covers everything you could need.