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Los Angeles



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In the past few years there has been a plethora of natural and man-made events that have forced residents to evacuate their homes. Sometimes there is sufficient time to collect valuables; sometimes there is not.

With Hurricane Katrina, residents had a few hours to gather some possessions and flee; but they needed to prepare to be away for months – years in many cases.  On November 22, 2006, at 2:49 a.m., an explosion at a small chemical plant in Danvers, Mass., caused the immediate evacuation of hundreds of neighbors. There was no warning. Over a hundred homes were damaged; at least ten of them destroyed, along with businesses and a marina. There was no time to gather personal items.

Here in Southern California, wildfires and earthquakes are the more unpredictable of natural disasters whose possibility we live with everyday. Wildfires in particular have threatened thousands (and destroyed hundreds) of homes. Being prepared is more than just having good insurance, it's also about being proactive and ready for worst case scenarios.

What would you take with you if you had ten minutes to get out of your home because of a neighborhood disaster? Chances are very high that you would forget many important things in your haste to leave because you were not prepared. But you can be.

First, you need to make a list of what to take, and, for some items, where to find them.  Second, you should have an evacuation kit ("go-pack") containing as many of those items as is practical.  Third, the "go-pack" should be placed where it is most likely to be grabbed as you evacuate, such as in a hall closet, in the garage, or in the family car.

Each family has different needs and priorities. We have put together a basic list of recommended items that would be good to have with you under a wide variety of evacuation conditions. You can mark the list to denote what you want, perhaps divided into several classes, such as “must,” “should,” and “if possible.”  Or you can make your own list. In either case, don't forget to keep a copy of the list with your "go-pack" and check and adjust regularly based on your changing needs.

Download the basic "go-pack" list of items we recommend (PDF).

What else should you do?

  • If time permits, call a relative or friend and tell them that you are evacuating, to where, and how to get in touch with you.  Contact any family members that are not with you and establish a plan.
  • Since family members may get separated in an emergency, everyone should have a pre-designated place to meet, depending on the emergency, and an out-of-state person to call as a principal contact for every family member.
  • Turn of the main gas shutoff outside the building.  Consider closing the main electric circuit breaker if there is danger of flooding or fire.

If you have questions, would like more information about disaster (earthquake, business interruption, wildfire) insurance, or need advice on other insurance choices for your family, business or personal needs, please give our friendly customer service staff a call and they will be happy to help.

Many insurance companies offer identity theft coverage with various maximum limits and some with no deductible to cover expenses to clear up the havoc that identity theft can cause.

These costs can include costs of executing affidavits, lost income replacement (limitations apply), loan re-application fees, attorney fees, and even the cost of long distance phone calls.

Insurance companies also may offer additional free services to assist you in identifying fraudulent accounts, notify credit reporting agencies, help you file police reports, offer legal support, translation services, contact creditors on your behalf and many other helpful areas.

Also, some insurance carriers may offer free credit monitoring services that will be able to keep a constant watch on your credit report and alert you of any unusual changes to your accounts.