Miss-Lou insurance companies offer tips ahead of Hurricane Ida

Published 4:28 pm Sunday, August 29, 2021

NATCHEZ — As Hurricane Ida approaches, there are certain steps people can take now, before the storm, to potentially make life easier later if they become one of the many affected by it.

“Protect life first and property second,” said Tate Hobdy of Stephens and Hobdy Insurance in Natchez. Once food and essential items are taken care of, there are other measures that can be taken to save you from headache later, he said.

It’s a good idea to always have your insurance policy number on hand in case important documents are destroyed, Hobdy said. Claims numbers and policy numbers are usually the first number you see located near the top of insurance forms, he said.

Sabrina Doré of Shelter Insurance in Vidalia said if a widespread event such as a hurricane causes you to lose power, “Chances are, your agent may not have power either,” and cannot always pull up your information on a computer.

“Having that policy number helps,” she said.

Almost everyone takes pictures of storm damage, however, Hobdy and Doré said it’s also good idea to take pictures or video of your belongings before a storm or disaster ever hits to help make life easier later.

Doré suggested doing this at least once a year, going around the house with a cell phone or camera and opening every closet and drawer to help jog your memory later when making a claim.

“Your insurance company hands you a blank form and tells you to list everything you had, about when you bought it and how much it costs,” she said. “You can’t remember all that. Have a video which you don’t give to your agents and don’t send to your insurance company, but you have it for yourself so that you can look back and think of all the little things. Everybody remembers TV’s couches and all of the big furniture pieces but oftentimes smaller things tucked behind doors or drawers or in cabinets we forget about.”

There are also steps that can be taken to minimize damage.

Hobdy said make sure that if you have a generator, it is run outside of the house in an open area with plenty of space around it. Doré said unplug electronics and tie down or put away any loose items outside, such as flagpoles, trampolines and swing sets that can fly away and cause damage.

Hobdy also emphasized being patient with insurance agents after a widespread event.

“Don’t wait on the insurance company to start making repairs, but keep track of all of your receipts and document everything,” he said. “Keep in mind that in a catastrophic event, they have an immense workload so just be patient with them.”

Hobdy said be vigilant when choosing contractors and make sure they have their own insurance as well.

At the same time, Doré said don’t delay notifying your agent when a disaster affects you.

“Often adjusters will come out to zones in teams. … If you wait a week, you probably missed the first round of adjusters,” she said. “Get damages reported right away.”