National Preparedness Month

Posted on September 07, 2021 at 04:59 PM

Insurance and preparation are keys to disaster survival and recovery

September is National Preparedness Month, and NW Insurance Council joins local, state and federal agencies and organizations in urging people to be ready before natural disasters strike.

The Pacific Northwest region often faces threats from many natural disasters, including earthquakes, tsunamis, wind and rainstorms and sometimes-devastating wildfires. These disasters can happen at any time and will not wait until the COVID-19 health crisis is over, so more than ever it is essential that Northwest families and businesses take steps now to prepare.

Planning ahead for evacuations because of disasters can save your life and the lives of those who matter most. To help families get started, the NW Insurance Council suggests taking these three steps to prepare for the next disaster:

Create a Home Inventory

    Having a home inventory can help you and your insurance adjuster settle your claim faster if your home or business is damaged or destroyed by a covered disaster. Here is some information to get started:

    • Creating a home inventory does not have to be a time-consuming task. One way to start is to pick an easy room first, then focus on one room at a time using your phone’s video or camera and adding notes about the purchase price or estimated value. See our Home Inventory Fact Sheet for a more detailed list of how to create a home inventory.
    • Store your home inventory in waterproof containers offsite in a safety deposit box or “in the cloud” for access when you need them. 
    • Save receipts, purchase contracts and appraisals so you have proof of an item’s value. Store original copies in an off-site location, such as a safe deposit box, or take photos with your smartphone and save them to “the cloud”.

    Review Your Insurance Policies

      It’s critical to know what kind of damage is covered under your standard home or business policy and to talk with your insurance company or agent about appropriate additional coverage to protect your investment in your home, your possessions and your business.

      • Review your insurance policies to be sure you have the right coverage to meet your needs.  Find out what your insurance will cover – and what it won’t.  Most Homeowners and Business Insurance policies do not cover damage caused by flood, earthquake, landslides or tsunamis. Also, to avoid being left “underinsured,” it’s a good idea to clarify whether or not your home has “replacement cost” coverage, with policy limits that increase as the costs of rebuilding after a disaster go up over time.
      • Flood Insurance can be purchased in most communities through the National Flood Insurance Program. You may be able to purchase earthquake coverage separately through your Homeowners insurance company or through a specialty carrier, such as GeoVera.
      • To insure against earth movement, such as landslides, mudslides or sinkholes, homeowners should speak to a reputable insurance broker about a “Difference in Conditions” policy offered by specialty or “surplus lines” insurers. Surplus lines insurers offer products that typically are not offered by “standard” insurers. Visit Surplus Line Association of Idaho, Oregon Surplus Line Association, Surplus Line Association of Washington or ask your own agent or company, to find out more about surplus lines brokers/insurers in Idaho.

      Create an Emergency Plan

        Emergency management officials suggest that families have a plan and supplies to be self-sufficient for at least three days after a disaster. Having supplies for up to two weeks is even better to survive the aftermath of a disastrous event.

        • Develop an effective disaster preparedness plan for your family. Visit FEMA’s National Preparedness Toolkit for information about how to develop a plan. For businesses, visit the Insurance for Business and Home Safety’s (IBHS) disaster planning toolkit Open for Business, which is designed to help businesses plan for any type of business interruption so it can quickly re-open and resume operations after a disaster.
        • Become familiar with your community’s disaster preparedness plans by visiting the community's official website or stopping by city hall. For more information about statewide emergency preparedness plans, visit the Idaho Office of Emergency Management, Oregon Office of Emergency Management or the Emergency Management Division of Washington. Know your evacuation routes and agree on a meeting place for your family.
        • Develop an emergency kit that includes at least a three-day supply of drinking water and food you don’t have to refrigerate or cook.  The kit should also contain first aid supplies, a weather radio, battery-operated lights and batteries, candles, clothing, blankets, medicine – including food and medicine for your pets – copies of your insurance policies and some basic tools.  More disaster planning resources are available at

        For more information, contact NW Insurance Council at 800-664-4942 or send an e-mail to

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