Disaster recovery plans need to account for the cost of replacing damaged structures

Faced with immediate physical danger, a person's thoughts will tend to remain focused on their survival until the threat has receded. But when severe weather hits a community, residents have to worry about much more than staying alive through the event. They also need to plan ahead for a potentially lengthy and expensive period of recovery and reconstruction.

Unfortunately, survey data from Allstate Insurance shows that many Americans are not taking basic steps to be prepared for severe weather. Among those polled, 30 percent said they would ignore an official evacuation order and remain in their home during a crisis. A majority of survey respondents also said they have not practiced an evacuation plan or taken an inventory of their possessions. The insurer recommends that homeowners take both of these precautions, among others, to ensure their personal safety, attempt to mitigate property damage and expedite any claims that may be filed in connection with a severe weather event.

The other key finding of the survey was that 92 percent of respondents said they have experienced some type of natural disaster in their lifetime. Allstate notes that the Federal Emergency Management Agency made 95 major disaster and fire declarations last year, and 112 during the previous year. Given the frequency of these events, preparedness is essential.

For any property owner, securing the appropriate insurance coverage is an essential part of being prepared. In turn, insurance carriers need to be able to accurately calculate the cost of replacing a structure and keep valuations up to date, accounting for local fluctuations in the cost of labor and building materials.