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Mark S. Gruskin's Blog

By Mark S. Gruskin | Agent in Malibu, CA

Five Tips to Prepare for a Disaster

1. Buy Enough Insurance
Get enough insurance to rebuild your home and to replace all of your personal belongings. If you have made a major alteration or improvement to your home, you need to update your insurance. The same goes for major purchases such as electronic equipment.

Find out how much coverage you have for “Additional Living Expenses.” If your home is destroyed by an insured disaster, such as a hurricane, this would be for additional costs, such as hotel costs, while your home is being repaired. If you rent out part of your home, it would also replace lost income for the time you would not be able to collect rent. Many policies provide coverage for 20 percent of the amount of insurance you have on your house and may be for a specified time period. Additional coverage is generally available for an extra premium.

Stanley Residence, 2007 Corral Canyon Malibu Fire

2. Get the Right Type of Policy
Ask about flood insurance. Flood damage is not covered under standard home insurance policies. Insurance is available from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The policy, however, can be purchased from the same agent or broker who provided your home or renters insurance policy. Additional information can be found on www.floodsmart.gov. Excess flood insurance is also available from private insurance companies if you need more coverage than the NFIP provides in its policies.

Look into getting a guaranteed or extended replacement policy for the structure of your home. These policies provide additional insurance coverage over what it should cost to rebuild your home. A guaranteed replacement cost policy would pay to rebuild your home regardless of cost. Increasingly, however, insurers are offering extended replacement cost policies, which provide 20 percent or more over the limits in your policy.

Ask about replacement cost for your belongings. When insuring your possessions, you have two coverage choices. One is Actual Cash Value which replaces your possessions less depreciation. The other is replacement cost coverage which replaces your property in today’s dollars – without a deduction for depreciation. It costs about 10 percent more, but provides much better coverage.

3. Compile a Home Inventory
Have an up-to-date inventory of all of your personal property. A home inventory will help you purchase enough insurance to replace your possessions, speed the claims process and will substantiate losses for income tax purposes.

DocuHome Home Inventory Application

4. Create an Emergency Evacuation Plan

Plan ahead and practice so that your evacuation is smooth and fast. In an emergency you may have only a few minutes to gather your family and important documents and leave your home, possibly for good. Have the following ready to go:

  • Medicines, prescriptions, comfort items and a change of clothes.
  • Emergency supplies such as flashlights, radio, batteries and water.
  • Computer hard drive or laptop.
  • Photographs.
  • Insurance policies, birth and marriage certificates, will, deeds and recent tax returns, stocks, bonds and other negotiable certificates. Driver’s licenses and other personal identification.
  • .

    Red Cross are First Responders

    5. Disaster Proof Your Home
    Install storm shutters to protect your windows or use plywood panels which can be nailed to window frames when a storm approaches.

    Make sure exterior doors should have at least three hinges and a dead bolt lock that is at least one-inch long. Sliding glass doors should be made of tempered glass and covered with shutters or plywood.

    Replace old garage doors and tracks with a door that is approved for both wind pressure and impact protection, since garage doors are highly susceptible to wind damage.

    Having gone through several fires in Malibu, the Corral Canyon Fire on November 24, 2007 was the one that destroyed my home. IMPORTANT: Homeowners don’t realize that an itemized list is required by your insurer after a loss. Plus, if I had compiled a list prior to my loss, I would have realized I was under insured! This was my families OMG moment.

    Along with protecting your assets, DocuHome will bring more peace of mind into your life.

    About Mark Gruskin
    Mark is an attorney with a background in insurance and real estate law. He has served as corporate counsel for State Farm Insurance Company and has represented numerous insurance carriers and their clients over the past 15 years. Mark is also a realtor specializing in the sale of high end luxury properties in the Malibu Real Estate area and the Westside of Los Angeles. His credentials include a wealth of insurance, business and real estate related knowledge and expertise.

    See Mark’s Malibu Real Estate listings at http://www.malibumark.com

    Please see the disclaimers below.
    Any potential exclusions/limitations shown on this site are intended to be hypothetical examples and educational in a general nature only. They are not intended to represent an exhaustive list of actual exclusions present or not present in any insurance policy. Carefully read your policy as the definitions, coverages and limitations contained in your policy supersede any information provided on this website.

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