From breathtaking mountain ranges, to sweeping ocean views, and lush green forests spanning as far as the eye can see, the West has no shortage of natural beauty. Unfortunately, the Western United States also offers the greatest variety of natural disaster risks in the entire country. While natural disasters by nature are often unexpected, the right combination of insurance coverage and a disaster plan can help you and your family recover quickly in the aftermath of a disaster. To assist you, our insurance experts have compiled a list of common natural disaster risks in the West, as well as tips for creating your own disaster plan.
Common Natural Disasters in the West
Whether you live in Washington, Oregon, California, Wyoming, Idaho, or Colorado, it’s always best to prepare for the unexpected. This starts with first understanding which natural disasters present a potential risk to you and your family based on your location. Typically, standard homeowners policies generally cover a wide range of potential disasters, from windstorms to fire to winter storm damage. However, some policies are limited. It is important to check with your Grange Insurance Association independent agent to review what your policy covers. Catastrophic events such as earthquakes and flooding will require a special policy through a specialty broker. Depending on where you live, you may wish to consider one of these policies.
Positioned along the San Andreas Fault, California and other Western states are notorious for earthquake activity. Even medium-strength earthquakes can potentially damage buildings and cause injuries. Earthquake insurance can be obtained through a special policy from your current insurance provider or a specialty carrier.
With changing climates and thick forestry spanning most of the region, wildfires are a growing concern for residents of the Western US. Over the past 30 years there has been a fourfold increase in the number of large forest fires in the American West, while the fire season has grown from 136 to 220 days during this time. Damage from wildfires is covered under most standard homeowners insurance policies.
With rising sea levels, sometimes a high tide is all it takes to cause flooding along the coast. Add climate and weather into the mix, and floods can become worse and more frequent. Flood insurance is available through the National Flood Insurance Program.
Above are three of the more common natural disasters that impact the West. Depending on your location, you might consider obtaining insurance for other threats, such as windstorms, landslides, and tsunamis. While windstorms are covered under most standard home insurance policies, landslide and tsunami insurance must be obtained through a specialty broker. Contact your local independent insurance agent to ensure you have the coverage you need.
Disaster Preparedness 101: Preparing for the Unexpected
Regardless of which natural disasters are most common in your area, it’s always best practice to have a disaster preparedness plan ready. If you and your family have not yet created a disaster plan, the following tips can be a great place to start your preparations:
Set an Evacuation Location
It’s important that every member of your family knows where to meet should disaster strike. This could be a relative's home, a business, or even a well-known landmark. Make sure to have a backup location should the first become inaccessible.
Determine Alternate Communication Methods
Make sure your family knows how and where to look for emergency messages from loved ones, including the methods of communication used and in what order. A few possible methods of alternate communication include:
- Text Messages -Text messages require far less bandwidth than phone calls. Even when phone circuits are overwhelmed, texts operate on a parallel network and may still work.
- Social Media & Email - Social media networks and email servers are hosted on a network of global servers. Even if your cell phone service is down, there may be a chance that WiFi will still be up.
Have 3 Days of Food and Water Available
No matter how prepared you are, there are always countless variables that could alter your plans. As such, in the unfortunate event that a disaster leaves you unable to evacuate your home or business, having three days of food and water on hand will provide you with vital time to formulate a new plan of action or await assistance from local first responders.
Create a Personal Property Inventory
If your property is damaged during a natural disaster, it can sometimes to be difficult to remember specifics about what you owned. Creating an inventory of your personal property before a natural disaster strikes can help to speed up the claims process post-disaster. Make a few copies of this inventory and store one copy online or in a location outside of your home to ensure that you will be able to access it in the event of a disaster.
Check with Your Insurance Provider
Grange Insurance Association offers standard homeowner coverage options that cover a wide range of potential disasters, including wildfire damage and damage related to adverse weather conditions, such as wind, snow, and ice. Your local independent insurance agent can be a great resource for helping you determine what insurance coverage makes sense for you and your family.
When it comes to ensuring your family and home are well protected, trust Grange Insurance Association. Serving families in the Western US since 1894, our customized solutions are designed to make your life easier. So, even in the event of a disaster, you can quickly get back to enjoying the things that matter to you.