What is Risk Management?
Simply put, risk management is the process of first identifying your risks and, second, figuring out ways to minimize – or manage – them. There are nine major perils that property owners face, and some or all may apply to you, depending on where you live:
Understanding the Exposure You Face
It is important to understand what risks are likely in your particular area.
Bankers encourages our policyholders to always be prepared, especially if you live in a catastrophe-prone state. There is what we like to call a danger of “hurricane amnesia,” and it is vital to your safety that you avoid this phenomenon and get informed. We recommend that you make a plan about how your family will respond to a disaster. You should know your risks – from storms to earthquakes to mudslides – and have a plan before disaster strikes.
Familiarize yourself with local shelters and evacuation routes, have emergency numbers at the ready and complete your disaster supplies kit now.
FEMA offers an “Are You Ready?*” guide that can help you prepare your family and your home for the disasters that could affect you.
What is Loss Prevention?
While you can’t totally eliminate most risks, there’s a lot you can do proactively to prevent, or at least minimize, the losses such risks can cause. Think of all the things you can do to minimize risks in your own life‐wipe up a spill to prevent slipping, prevent fire damage by not overloading an outlet, close and lock all windows and doors before leaving your home. The more you do proactively to prevent loss, the less your insurance is likely to cost.
For detailed information on how you can prepare for a disaster, we recommend these links:
Wind and Hail
There are many ways to prepare your home for wind and hail:
- Keep your trees trimmed of overhanging branches and limbs.
- Remove, or place inside, all hanging pots and plants.
- Store all children’s toys and personal property in the garage, or shed. Flying objects or debris can cause damage to property and cause injuries.
- Make sure gutters and drains are clear of debris and in proper working order.
- If possible, equip your home with exterior shutters to cover all window openings.
- The roof is the single most important part of the home. Have your roof inspected annually ensure that shingles are properly secured and effective. Wood cedar shakes should be checked for splits and cracks and frayed edges.
- Garage doors should be reinforced.
Simple Summer storms can cause damage. Be prepared.
- Before any approaching storm, unplug all non‐essential electrical items and appliances, including lamps, televisions, microwave ovens and kitchen countertop items.
- Use UL tested and approved power strips and surge protectors for your electronic items.
- Check with your power company for more tips.
Earthquakes are one of the most severe and unpredictable catastrophic events you can face. Earthquakes strike with no warning and there is no completely accurate way to predict the size or strength of the quake. Still, there are several preventive measures you can take.
- Safeguard your household by placing protective clips and latches on all cabinets.
- Do not hang mirrors, pictures, or other objects over sofas, beds, or chairs where they can fall off the wall and injure you or your family.
- If you live in the area of a known fault, have your home inspected for compliance to local building codes.
- Check your foundation and footings for stability; chimney and fireplaces for structural integrity; and after a quake, be sure to check below ground swimming pools for cracks and water loss.
It is important to note that earthquake coverage is not standard on your policy, but is something you can choose to add.
Preparedness should be a fact of life for those living in hurricane‐prone states. Sadly, many of us suffer from “hurricane amnesia” after a long period with no storms‐and our preparedness can slip. But there are many things you can do now to avoid potential damage and be ready to evacuate should the need arise.
- Take a walk around your property and check for hazards. Remove problem tree limbs. Check for loose gutters and soffits. Make note of any non‐secured outdoor items that will need to be brought indoors in the event of a storm. Secure hot tub lids tightly.
- Now is a good time to invest in hurricane shutters.
- Prepare a family evacuation plan. Have several options for where you and your pets can go in the event of a storm. Keep phone numbers and a road map handy. Know how to turn off gas, water and power supplies. Should evacuation become necessary you will need to turn these off before you go. (A professional must turn gas service back on.) Once you have your plan together, give a copy to other family members so they know where to find you.
- Allow for a week’s worth of water, food and medicines. Don’t forget pet supplies and personal hygiene supplies. You will also need a battery‐powered radio, flashlights and extra batteries. There is much more to consider and you can find a complete list by visiting fema.gov* or ibhs.com.*
Please keep in mind that, while flood is considered one of the nine major risks to your home, flood insurance is always sold separately from any homeowner policy. Flood and water loss are not the same thing.
- Water losses account for almost 50% of all reported homeowners losses, and most can be prevented with simple routine maintenance.
- Water losses from household appliances can be prevented by replacing hoses, belts and clamps on a regular basis. Metal braided hoses only have a five‐year life expectancy. Check the appliance’s owner manual for maintenance recommendations
- Prior to leaving for vacation, or being gone for an extended period of time, shut your water off, consider draining your pipes. If you will be away more than 30 days, drain your pipes, also a simple twist of a knob can ensure your vacation ends on a relaxing note.
- Water heaters have a life expectancy of only 10 years. Signs of corrosion and brown water stains at the base tell you it is time to replace the appliance.
- Appliances overflow when left unattended. Be safe‐only run appliances like washers and dishwashers while you are home.
- Purchase alarms or leak detectors to be placed on or near the appliances.
Fire may be one of the lowest risks to your home, but, when it happens, it can be the most devastating – and costly.
- Cooking or grease fires are the most common. Please do not leave pots and pans unattended while on the stove.
- Keep several fire extinguishers on hand and strategically placed throughout the dwelling. Always keep one in the kitchen and near the stove.
- Do not pour water on a grease fire.
- Be careful not to overload electrical power strips. Surge protectors should be used to help prevent electrical fires.
- Leaving candles, space heaters, and cigarettes unattended contributes to fire losses.
- Another fire risk can be found in the laundry room. Most dryer fires occur when left unattended. Clean the lint trap.
- Check the electrical breaker box twice a year for any signs of a problem. As a reminder, check it when the clocks are adjusted in the spring and the fall.
- Avoid plug‐in air fresheners.
- Establish an escape route for you and your family in the event of a fire.
- Last, but not least, have smoke alarms in every room and check the batteries on a regular basis. You may want to consider an alarm with a central reporting system so the authorities are notified immediately.
Depending on where you live, theft can be a significant risk for your home. It is important to know your level of risk and take precautions.
- Use automatic timers to control both exterior and interior lights. Set them at random times. Make the bad guys think you are home.
- While on vacation or an extended trip, put a hold on your mail and newspaper delivery.
- Don’t leave the garage door open. People might see what is in there and come back later.
- Put bikes away.
- Install security devices on all windows and doors – especially sliding glass doors.
- Be part of a neighborhood watch group. Tell your trusted neighbors when you will be away.
- Check windows and doors after workers leave your home to ensure everything is locked.
Liability insurance protects you from financial loss due to someone getting hurt while on your property.
- Maintain your walkways, driveways, patios and steps. Slip and falls are the number one home accident.
- Place handrails on all stairways.
- Control your pets, especially dogs. Be aware of the temperament of the breed you select. Keep dogs on a leash and away from strangers.
- Fence your pool in and surround it with adequate lighting. Diving boards can cause injuries. Never let small children swim without adult supervision.
Keep in mind that flood coverage is purchased separately from your homeowners policy. It’s important to note that virtually everyone lives in a flood zone. And remember, it takes 30 days for a flood policy to take effect once you’ve purchased it, so don’t wait until a disaster is about to hit.
- Flash floods can happen in all 50 states.
- Your home has a one-in-four chance of being involved in a flood during the course of a 30‐year mortgage.
- “Low risk” does not mean “NO risk.” At least 25% of flood claims are in low to moderate risk areas, according to the National Flood Insurance Program, the association that writes flood policies.
- Be sure to have a weather radio on hand to monitor for flood warnings.
- Keep your car fueled and be prepared for evacuation.
- Keep emergency gear handy including flashlights, extra food/water/medications and more.