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Protect Property From 4 Types of Severe Weather - A Message from AAA

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In the insurance industry, the term “flood” refers to water that comes in over top of the ground, while “water backup” generally enters the home through floor drains. Don’t assume you’re covered for water damage, though, because a basic homeowners insurance policy doesn’t cover either one. Flood insurance must be purchased as a separate policy, and limited coverage for.

What you can do: Protect your valuables by keeping them several inches off the floor, and use plastic tubs to store important papers and other items that could suffer water damage. Purchase flood insurance sooner rather than later, as there is a 30-day waiting period before the flood insurance policy takes effect. Review with your agent your needs and the availability of optional water backup coverage in your homeowners insurance policy.

High winds can have effects both obvious, including roof damage and fallen trees, and hidden, such as a downed tree limb concealing a power line. In addition, be aware that contractors often go door-to-door in neighborhoods after storms, offering to make repairs.

What you can do: After the storm passes, avoid trees or limbs on the ground until you’re certain there are no downed power lines in the vicinity. Be cautious of anyone who promises you that your insurance will cover any or all of the damage, or that the deductible will not have to be paid. Your claims adjuster is the reliable source to confirm what will or will not be covered by your policy.

Lightning strikes are responsible for more than $400 million in property damage per year in the United States, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Coinciding with summer storms, lightning is most common in the months of June through August.

What you can do: Whole-house surge protectors can provide effective—but not foolproof—defense against lightning strikes. Computers are especially vulnerable to power surges, so protect your important files and photos with frequent backups to both an external hard drive and to a cloud-based location.

Property damage from hail exceeded $1.2 billion in the United States in 2013, according to the Insurance Information Institute, and the total in 2012 was $2.4 billion. Hailstones from the same storm can vary in size, shape and density, so while the roof on one house is damaged beyond repair, a home next door might suffer little or no effects.

What you can do: As with wind damage, always work with your insurer to make sure you’re covered for all of the repairs that are done. If you encounter a hailstorm while driving, find a safe place to pull off the road as soon as possible, as a moving vehicle suffers more damage from hail than a stationary one.

What steps can you take before and after severe weather to safeguard your property?

Knowing how to prepare for—and react to—severe weather can help you protect your property and yourself. Here are insights and tips into four types of potentially damaging weather.

To make sure your property is protected, stop by any AAA office or visitAAA.com/Insurance.

A version of this story appears in the May/June 2015 issue ofAAA Livingmagazine. This story online.

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