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America’s Top Insurance Lawyer, Frank N. Darras Issues Urgent Warning: Prepare Now for Hurricane Sandy

As Hurricane Sandy’s fury strengthens, more than 50 million people from the mid-Atlantic to New England nervously await its arrival. The storm is now expected to make landfall late Monday evening or early Tuesday and could impact as far inland as the Ohio Valley. As the storm worsens and thousands are evacuated, Frank N. Darras, American’s top insurance lawyer, issues urgent warning to prepare now.

“The storm is predicted to worsen over the next 24 hours. Listen closely for evacuation orders and take time to prepare your home. Even if you live hundreds of miles from the coast, your home is still at risk for major wind and flooding damage,” says Darras.

If it’s safe to do so, take a walk around the outside of the house and remove any diseased or damaged tree limbs before the storm hits. Secure any yard objects and store outdoor furniture. If needed, board up the home using half-inch plywood panels. Be sure to video tape or photograph the exterior of the house including soft-scape, hard -scape and trees. It’s often difficult to remember what you planted but a picture is worth a thousand words.

“Once the house is secure and protected, discuss or review your emergency plan with your family. Make sure you have a route out of the room you are in and ensure the car has gas in it. Then, set up an emergency communication plan in case you are to be separated. This should include a meeting location and an out-of-state emergency contact. It’s often easier to call long distance following a storm so make sure each family member knows the name and number of the emergency contact,” says Darras.

After the house is boarded up and the family is out of harm’s way, individuals should take steps to prepare for possible insurance claims later. It’s common before a disaster to be glued to the TV and forget to store away important documents.

“Just finding your insurance policy amidst the destruction is most likely impossible. Throw in the personal trauma and loss and all of a sudden, entire communities are overwhelmed. Do yourself a favor and fish out that insurance policy from under the large pile of papers in your desk drawer,” says Darras.

After the insurance policy is found and safe, Darras recommends the following steps:

  • Take pictures of your home, both inside and out
  • Don’t forget the garage, attic and basement
  • Take a full household inventory. Don’t forget drawers and closets
  • Write down the name and number of your insurance carrier and policy number
  • Store all items in a safe, water-proof location.

“It’s important to take time in the midst of the looming storm to prepare yourself and your family. Safety should be the number one priority. After that’s taken care of, don’t forget to protect your property. It will save you money and stress later,” says Darras.

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