LOS ANGELES, Oct. 31, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Mercury's Emergency Claims Team is ready to assist policyholders who may have been forced to evacuate their homes, or whose property has suffered damage from wind and rain caused by Superstorm Sandy. Representatives are available to help with claims, arrange for temporary housing or provide assistance with living expenses if policyholders have been displaced, in the event they suffered a covered loss. Policyholders are encouraged to begin reporting claims as soon as possible by calling the Mercury Claims Hotline at (800) 503-3724.
"Safeguard yourself and family when going home," says Joanna Moore, Mercury Chief Claims Officer. "First, you should always follow local authority's directions as to when to return home. Then, take precautions to prevent injuries when entering your neighborhood and home."
Mercury Insurance would also like to remind policyholders affected by Superstorm Sandy to take care when returning home because the danger has not passed for most residents in impacted areas. Flooding, live dangling power lines and other hazards remain in the wake of Sandy, and families should protect themselves by knowing what to do before returning home.
FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) recommends residents put together a "cleanup kit" that includes cleaning equipment (eye protection, particle respirator, rubber gloves, sponges, brooms, mops, towels, trash bags and spatulas), cleaning products (bleach and odor-neutralizing products), and safety and first aid items (flash lights, adhesive bandages, hydrogen peroxide, bottled water and antibiotic ointments).
Mercury recommends residents follow these safety tips when preparing to return to their neighborhoods and homes after this violent and deadly storm.
- Return home when government officials say it is safe. Listen to and follow local municipality instructions. Stay away from flooded roads and washed out bridges.
- Watch out for loose and fallen debris. Fallen objects can be encountered during your drive and at your home. The violent storm has loosened trees and other debris that can fall without warning.
- Be aware of downed power lines. Keep away from loose or dangling power lines. Do not drive over them or move them. Report them to the power company for repair. Only enter your home if the power company or fire department has determined it is safe.
- Look for external damage to buildings. Walk carefully around your home looking for roof, chimney, porch, cantilever and foundation cracks. If you are uncertain if your home is safe, have a structural engineer inspect your home before entering.
- Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas outside of your home, move a safe distance from the building. If you smell gas inside your home, get out immediately and move a safe distance from the building. In either circumstance, call the gas company and fire department.
- Proceed with caution when entering your home. Use battery-powered flashlights only and turn them on before entering the building. Do not use candles. Floors and stairways may be slippery and covered in debris, so be careful where you step.
- Contact Mercury's claims as soon as possible if your property has been damaged. Mercury's Claims Hotline is available around the clock by calling (800) 503-3724. Adjusters will be deployed to customers' homes to begin assessing damage as soon as authorities declare areas are safe and accessible.
- Document the damage to expedite your claims process. Record the damage through video and photos. Be careful when stepping over debris and watch out for wild animals, such as poisonous snakes.
- Unplug all electrical equipment. Turn off your home's power before touching any appliances. Clean and have them checked by a professional before using them again.
- Check water and sewage system. Tap water may not be safe for drinking from your home. Check with local authorities to see if the water supply has been contaminated. Additionally, your home's pipes might have been cracked during the storm. If you suspect a leak, turn off the main water valve and have a professional plumber inspect them.
- Check furnace and water heater. Storm waters might have reached your furnace or water heater. Have them inspected before using.
"Our claims adjusters are ready to assess storm damage claims that may be covered under policyholders' homeowners insurance policies," says Moore. "More significant damage caused by flooding and debris flows is typically covered by a separate flood insurance policy provided through the National Flood Insurance Program."
Moore advises policyholders to follow a few simple procedures to help the claims process run quickly and smoothly.
When filing a claim
- Contact Mercury immediately to report your loss.
- Do not remove debris or damaged property that may be related to your claim.
Steps after filing a claim
- Prepare a detailed inventory of destroyed or damaged property.
- Offer photos or video tapes of your home and possessions to your adjuster, if these are available.
- Keep copies of communications between you and your adjuster.
- Keep records and receipts for additional living expenses that were incurred if you were forced to leave you home, and provide copies to your adjuster.
ABOUT MERCURY INSURANCE (www.mercuryinsurance.com)
Mercury Insurance (MCY) is a multiple-line insurance organization predominantly offering personal automobile and homeowners insurance through a network of independent agents in Florida, Georgia, California, New Jersey, Arizona, New York, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, Texas, Oklahoma, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Since 1962, Mercury has specialized in offering quality insurance at affordable prices – core values that distinguish Mercury in the marketplace.
SOURCE Mercury Insurance