Weather Center

Disaster Survival for Your Finances

By Jennifer Chappell Smith 8.31.18

Texas Farm Bureau Insurance agency manager Rob Barjenbruch lived through Hurricane Harvey. These are his seven key tips to get you through a natural disaster — and the aftermath.

1. Insure your property fully.

And alert your Agent to any home upgrades or improvements that could affect the property value. Then you won’t discover too late that your home requires more coverage than you have.

2. Conduct annual insurance reviews with your Agent.

Determine if life changes should spark new coverage.

3. Make sure your policies cover all potential risks.

That includes windstorms and flooding. Barjenbruch’s entire claim on his own Harvey-ravaged house was covered by his windstorm policy — not his homeowners policy. Flood insurance is available from the National Flood Insurance Program. “It’s important to have all three,” he says.

4. Check with your bank for up-to-date insurance payments.

If you have a mortgage, these should be made through an escrow account before the storm comes. Otherwise, you could find yourself without a fully paid account, which could affect your policy benefit.

5. Build your emergency funds.

You’ll get insurance benefits in the wake of the storm, but you’ll need another stash of cash to get back on your feet. Long-term expenses could include relying on restaurant meals, buying cleaning supplies, paying for a rental during a rebuild, and putting down deposits to restart utilities.

6. Turn off your water if you evacuate.

Otherwise you risk a burst pipe while you’re away, on top of the storm damage. Also make sure your electricity is off to prevent damages from power surges, which would not be covered by your insurance.

7. Use local contractors.

You may have to wait in line, but it’s likely less costly to hire local pros to make repairs than outsiders who may take advantage of desperate homeowners after a storm. Barjenbruch urges patience to get the best deal.

For more disaster survival advice, check out our guide to flood insurance and hurricane prep.

Coverage and discounts are subject to qualifications and policy terms and may vary by situation. © 2018 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance