LOS ANGELES, Calif. (August 24, 2011) – Mercury Insurance representatives are ready in Florida, Georgia, Virginia, New Jersey and New York to assist policyholders with home and vehicle claims if Hurricane Irene reaches the U.S. According to the National Hurricane Center, Irene continues to strengthen as it passes Cuba with a forecast cone directed toward Florida, Georgia and the eastern seaboard. Mercury customers can report losses and damages through the claims hotline at (800) 503-3724.
“Events such as Irene can be devastating for those impacted by the storm,” says Chief Claims Officer Joanna Moore. “We have mobilized our claims teams so we can respond quickly to our customers’ requests for help. Whether it’s providing living expenses while they are out of their homes, or facilitating claims, our team of customer advocates is committed to providing Mercury policyholders with the assistance they need.”
The National Hurricane Center has published information at www.nhc.noaa.gov on how residents living in hurricane zones can prepare for Irene. Tips include knowing evacuation routes, having emergency equipment in working order and purchasing at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food and drinking water.
“Water surges and high winds can precede the main event, so it is extremely important to comply with evacuation notices,” says Moore. “Purchase food, water, first aid kits and a full tank of gas as soon as you can to avoid lines and delays in leaving before the storm hits.”
Mercury, specializing in personal auto and homeowners insurance, encourages customers to review insurance policies each year with their local agents. Mercury customers in Florida, Georgia, Virginia, New Jersey and New York can protect vehicles from hurricane damage by purchasing comprehensive coverage, in addition to liability coverage, as liability covers only accidents and individuals.
Mercury claims adjusters will assess damage to policyholders’ property due to rain and wind. Homeowners seeking coverage from flood and debris flows should review the National Flood Insurance Program at www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/pages/about/nfip_overview.jsp.
Mercury is urging homeowners to prepare for heavy rain, wind and flooding. The company is offering tips to homeowners that will help prepare families for the coming hurricane. Disaster preparedness is essential to preventing injuries and property damage from violent and deadly storms.
- Arrange your evacuation ahead of time. Plan where you will go in the event of an evacuation. Create an Evacuation Kit with a list of phone numbers and addresses. Your Evacuation Kit should include a map and a GPS—in case street signs are blown down. Remember to include family pets in your plans.
- Create a home inventory. Establish a complete home inventory of your personal property. The Insurance Information Institute offers free, online software, which can be downloaded at: www.knowyourstuff.org/iii/login.html. If your home is destroyed by a hurricane or other disaster, the home inventory is securely stored online and accessible from anywhere at any time. Well-documented home inventories may serve to expedite the claims process, as well as substantiate losses for income tax purposes.
- Plan what to take. Prepare an Evacuation Kit that includes essentials, such as medicines and comfort items like children’s toys or books. Your Evacuation Kit should also include these kinds of items:
· Bottled water
· Clothing and beddings (sleeping bags and pillows)
· Flashlight, battery-powered radio and extra batteries
· Special items for infants, elderly or disabled family members
· Computer hard drive or lap top
· Cell phone chargers
· Pet food, water and other items for pets (litter boxes, leashes, vaccination records, current photo of your pet)
· Properly identify your pet with identification tags or microchips
· Make sure your vehicle’s fuel tank is full and park it facing out
- Gather important documents. Organize important documents in two groups: essential and basic. Original copies of essential documents should be stored in a safe deposit box, which will preserve them during a disaster. Moreover, a safe deposit box will keep essential documents out of circulation and help prevent identity theft. Basic documents should be added to your Evacuation Kit, which should be stored in a handy, easily accessible place.
Essential documents (store these in a safe deposit box)
· Birth and marriage certificates
· Social Security cards
· Wills, living trusts and grant deeds
· Mortgage papers
· Stocks, bonds and other negotiable certificates
· Credit card numbers
Basic documents (add these to your Evacuation Kit)
· Checklist of what’s in your Evacuation Kit; in a container that is waterproof and fireproof
· Drivers license or other personal identification
· Insurance policies
· Employment information and copies of pay stubs for the past two months
· Bank, savings and retirement account numbers
· Mortgage papers (copy)
· Recent tax returns
· Home inventory (copy with photos of expensive items)
· List of important phone numbers and addresses
Additional hurricane preparedness resources:
NOAA National Weather Service: www.weather.gov/safety.php
American Red Cross: www.redcross.org/getprepared
Federal Emergency Management Agency: www.ready.gov
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.