Protection from the storm

By Melanie Ruberti

June 14, 2014

Thunderstorms are a normal part of summer, but lately Troup County and the surrounding areas have also had their share of severe weather including high winds, hail, and at least two tornadoes.

According to Chandler Christie, a customer service representative with a local State Farm Insurance company, now is the perfect time to inspect your home and property and make changes before the next storm hits. Some of his tips include: buying surge protectors or lightning protection spikes. The spikes don’t keep the lightning away from the house, but they keeps it from coming inside.

If you have the money, reconstruct a room in your home with steel framing to become a “safe room” during severe weather, especially tornadoes. Many above ground safe rooms will protect you from winds up to 250 miles per hour, which on the Fujita damage scale is similar to an EF-4 tornado.

Christie also suggested investing in impact resistant roofing materials and windows, which would protect against flying debris and hail. He said many insurance companies will give you a discount on your policy if you have those coverings on your home.

Hail stones can be one of the most dangerous parts of a thunderstorm, as many LaGrange residents found out in April of 2013. According to the National Weather Service, a quarter to golf ball sized hail fell in the area in a short amount of time. Christie said from that storm alone, his State Farm office handled 400 auto claims, and 100-150 homeowner insurance claims.

Unfortunately, Christie said there’s little you can do to protect your vehicle during a hail storm, except park in a covered garage or under some type of shelter. And he warns people to not to forget about the potential for flooding.

“Flooding is not covered in a home policy,” said Christie. ” You’d be surprised at how many people don’t realize they don’t have it.”

According to Christie, flood insurance is a stand alone policy that is underwritten through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). He said you can add the policy at any time, but it takes 30 days to take effect.

Another piece of advice is to conduct an inventory of your home.

“When people lose everything, it’s overwhelming,” Christie explained. “They forget what they had…. take a DVD of your inventory and put it in a safe deposit box. Don’t keep it at home, that defeats the purpose.”

“Have an emergency plan,” he added. “Think ahead. What would happen if you were displaced from your house?”

Christie said this included having a list of emergency contacts and potential places to stay if you and your family are displaced.

Christie also suggested folks invest in a battery operated weather radio and update your homeowner policy, if need be.

“Every year go over coverages with an agent, just to see what you have, see what your deductible is,” said Christie. “So there are no surprises.”

If your home is damaged during a storm, Christie said protect your property, then document the damage.

“Cover your roof, get trees off of your home or cars. Go ahead and take pictures … don’t throw away any damaged property, some insurance companies might need it …. If you throw it away, you can’t prove you had it,” he explained.

Christie also said call your insurance company immediately. Many places have a 24-hour service to report a claim.

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