Posts Tagged ‘Maine’s Bureau of emergency preparedness’

State Officials Caution Maine Residents about Threats Posed by Severe Weather as Hurricane Season Approaches

PRESS RELEASE 

GARDINER – With the Atlantic Hurricane Season approaching, Governor Paul R. LePage and Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa are reminding Maine residents about steps that can be taken to protect people, minimize property loss and speed recovery after weather-related damage.  The Atlantic Hurricane Season begins June 1st and runs through November.

Governor LePage and Superintendent Cioppa encourage Mainers to review their homeowners or renters policy and to evaluate the benefits of flood insurance.  They also urge residents to complete a home inventory checklist and assemble an emergency supply kit.

“The start of the hurricane season is a good time to remember that severe weather can strike anytime and it’s important to be prepared,” Governor LePage said.  “There are simple steps we can all take to keep our families safe and property protected, and to recover quickly if damage occurs.”

Cioppa urged residents to understand what’s covered by their homeowners or renters policy and make sure coverage is adequate.  “Standard homeowner policies do not cover flooding, which is surprising to many people.  We should all take time to become familiar with our policy, purchase additional coverage if needed, consider whether flood insurance makes sense, and complete an inventory of possessions.”

Flood InsuranceFlooding is typically not covered by a standard homeowners policy.  Due to a 30-day waiting period for coverage to take effect, quick action is needed for a policy to be in place for much of this year’s hurricane season.  Details are available from the National Flood Insurance Program by calling 1-800-427-2419 or online at www.floodsmart.gov.  The website includes tools to help homeowners assess their flood risk.

Inventory Checklist:  A checklist can be enormously helpful in establishing an insurance claim.  Although a copy of the inventory can be kept at home, a second should always be maintained with insurance policies, medical records, and other important documents in a safety deposit box or other secure location.  The inventory should include photos and video of property.  A free checklist can be obtained on the Bureau’s website www.maine.gov/insurance (directly at www.maine.gov/pfr/insurance/consumer/individuals_families/homeowners_renters/home_inventory_checklist.html).

Additionally, the Governor and Superintendent encouraged residents to establish an emergency supply kit.  It should include several days of drinking water (at least one gallon per person per day), non-perishable packaged or canned foods, a non-electrical can opener and cooking utensil.  The kit should also contain first aid materials, necessary medications, basic tools, a battery or crank-operated radio and flashlights, extra batteries and any supplies needed for pets, as well as a list of important names and phone numbers, including insurance company contact information.

They also urged Mainers to familiarize themselves with resources provided by the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) — available at www.maine.gov/mema/prepare/.

The Bureau of Insurance is part of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation. Consumers can reach the Bureau at www.maine.gov/insurance; by calling 800-300-5000 in state; or by writing to Bureau of Insurance, 34 State House Station, Augusta ME  04333.

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Disaster Preparedness Tips for Homeowners and Renters from the NAIC

  • Take an inventory of your valuables and belongings. This should include taking photographs or a video of each room. This documentation will provide your insurance company with proof of your belongings and help to process claims more quickly in the event of disaster.
  • To enable filing claims more quickly, keep sales receipts and/or canceled checks. Also note the model and serial numbers of the items in your home inventory.
  • As you acquire more valuables — jewelry, family heirlooms, antiques, art —consider purchasing an additional “floater” or “rider” to your policy to cover these special items. These types of items typically are not covered by a basic homeowners or renter’s insurance policy.
  • Remember to include in your home inventory those items you rarely use (e.g., holiday decorations, sports equipment, tools, etc.).
  • Store copies of all your insurance policies in a safe location away from your home that is easily accessible in case of disaster. You may want to store your policies and inventory in a waterproof, fireproof box or in a safe, remote location such as a bank safe deposit box. Consider leaving a copy of your inventory with relatives, friends or your insurance provider and store digital pictures in your e-mail or on a Web site for easy retrieval.
  • Know what is and is not covered by your insurance policy. You might need additional protection depending on where you live. Make sure your policies are up to date. Contact your insurance provider annually to review and update your insurance policy.
  • Keep a readily available list of 24-hour contact information for each of your insurance providers.
  • Find out if your possessions are insured for the actual cash value or the replacement cost. Actual cash value is the amount it would take to repair or replace damage to your home or possessions after depreciation while replacement cost is the amount it would take to repair or replace your home or possessions without deducting for depreciation. Speak with your insurance provider to determine whether purchasing replacement coverage is worth the cost.
  • Speak with your insurance provider to find out if your policy covers additional living expenses for a temporary residence if you are unable to live in your home due to damage from a disaster.
  • Appraise your home periodically to make sure your insurance policy reflects home improvements or renovations. Contact your insurance provider to update your policy

Prepare for disasters

CONSUMER FORUM

By Russ Van Arsdale, Executive Director of Northeast CONTACT
Posted Nov. 11, 2012, at 7:34 p.m.

Anyone who has lived through more than one Maine winter may have chuckled over the minor dust-up between the National Weather Service and The Weather Channel over the naming of last week’s storm.

On Wednesday, TWC named the latest nor’easter Winter Storm Athena. NWS reacted with an internal memo, reminding forecasters that it does not name storms and that NWS forecasts should make no mention of the name Athena.

A storm by any other name (to misquote the Bard) is just a storm, we might remind ourselves. As the NWS directive noted, storms can weaken and strengthen, and they can combine with other storms. This makes it unclear where one begins and another ends, making naming a less exact science than forecasting the weather.

Whatever we call them, winter storms can grab our attention far beyond their duration — remember the Ice Storm of 1998? Winter-hardened consumers should be as ready as they can be for such weather, and the tools are there to help.

The Maine Prepares website ( www.maine.gov/mema/prepare) is maintained by Maine’s Bureau of Emergency Preparedness. It greeted forecasts of last week’s storm with reminders about safe driving, especially as we would all be seeing ice- and slush-slicked roads for the first time in many months.

The website’s home page notes that snow and ice are not the only problems we face this time of year. Hurricanes are still a threat, and since strong storms can contain lightning, there are safety tips on that potential hazard. The site also contains links to the major public safety and information organizations: American Red Cross, National Weather Service, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Federal Emergency Management Agency — FEMA — and others.

FEMA’s version of the website is http://www.ready.gov. A clever public service announcement notes that the day before most disasters strike is an ordinary day — like today. The moral: prepare now, while things are ordinary.

The site offers lists of emergency supplies to last for 72 hours. Food, water and other essentials might not be accessible by usual means for some time following a disaster; having those things on hand in a kit you can get to easily just makes sense.

For those consumers who love checklists, visit the American Red Cross website (www.redcross.org) and search for “Disaster Safety & Library.” You’ll find safety checklists to help you prepare for natural and manmade disasters. Using such lists should help raise your awareness of possible dangers and allow you to take real steps to minimize the effects, should a disaster strike.

And, since there’s a fraud perpetrator around every corner, remember to donate only to real relief agencies whose names you know. Avoid blind solicitations by phone or email, and don’t click on links in unsolicited emails. Disaster fraud is still among the top ten scams. The federal Justice Department welcomes calls about such fraud attempts, at 866-720-5721.

Consumer Forum is a collaboration of the Bangor Daily News and Northeast CONTACT, Maine’s all-volunteer, nonprofit consumer organization. For assistance with consumer-related issues, including consumer fraud and identity theft, or for information, write Consumer Forum, P.O. Box 486, Brewer 04412, visit https://necontact.wordpress.com or email contacexdir@live.com.

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