Saturday, June 1, 2013

There's a Storm Coming, or One Way to Cover Your Ass

Last night was the second time in as many weeks that I was strongly encouraged by frazzled-looking meteorologists to get underground or kiss my ass goodbye. The last big storm (May 20) claimed too many lives and far too much property, and the dust had barely settled from that one. Several good friends lost homes and cars, and I knew at least one of the folks who passed in that disaster. Last night brought tornadoes and the added dangers of flooding, which if swift & powerful enough can compromise your safe place underground.

Walker Avenue just a few blocks north of me reportedly had cars nearly submerged, and I'm already getting reports of friends with flooded basements & houses. The two worst non-human losses I've found out about so far were my good friend Eddie's loss of his '48 Fleetline, classic hearse, and a classic motorcycle in a fire and damage to the brewing operations at Mustang Brewing and Black Mesa Brewing, two of my favorite Oklahoma brewers.

Awkward segue onto an uncomfortable subject: I'm gonna talk to you about insurance & how to take some steps to protect your ass...ets. assets. Protect your assets.

  • If you own a home or car you've already got mandatory insurance. It's often only a few bucks more to actually cover everything you have. Talk to your insurance rep & make sure you have coverage for the right dollar amounts in the right categories.
    • If you rent you need to know that it's wildly inexpensive to get renter's insurance. With my last 2 companies it was $17-20 a month before bundle discounts, which ends up costing me about 12 actual dollars a month if I recall correctly.
    • Electronics & jewelry are often bundled together & restricted. It cost me about 3 bucks more a month to bump this coverage from $5k to $20k.
    • There are different kinds of coverage for classic cars, depending on whether you drive them daily or only to & from shows, or if they're parked project cars. Talk to your rep.
    • Regarding your car - when I switched to USAA I told them I had aftermarket audio in my car and they made sure my policy covered aftermarket mods. My neighbor with a heavily modified vehicle was about to soil himself over the incoming hail yesterday.
  • Keeping records does NOT have to  be a pain in the ass. Use technology. Cloud storage is free in small amounts and incredibly cheap in large amounts. I have an Inventory folder on my Google Drive (you already have 5GB online storage free if you have a Gmail account) where I keep this info. (You could also do this with iCloud, Dropbox, or any cloud storage service)
    • With the Google Drive app on Android & iOS you can directly upload photos from your camera. You can just take a picture of the manufacturer's tag with model & serial numbers and directly upload them to an Inventory folder so you've got proof of the physical device. I also have a couple of wide shots of my apartment showing the devices there together in case I need proof of location.
    • Once uploaded you can look at the pictures & record them more easily. I have a text document split by device with model & serial numbers of devices, as well as the identifying numbers on my phones & iPad, so I can easily read or copy/paste this info into emails if needed, and it makes it easier to find individual devices. You can get as specific with this as you want.
    • I also have my phone set to auto-upload phone photos to a backup folder on my Google Drive when on WiFi, so when things got crazy the other night I just took some photos of the apartment as it was, as well as a couple of new tech devices I hadn't documented yet. If the worst happened I'd have been able to pull up the serial #'s later.
      • Google+ has an option to do this on Android phones. I verified that it does NOT automatically share your nudes on Google+. Your mileage may vary by service, or if you've modified your settings.
I know that was boring. I actually rewrote it twice & compressed it a lot. In writing, though, I realized that I never talked to my company about my wine & comic book collections, so that'll be a project for this week. I'd hate to take total losses on those. I know there are so many more important things to deal with - keeping yourself safe, etc, but maybe I can cause someone to make life easier later.

Another little note - I use my GDrive for other handy stuff just in case I get in a jam. I keep pictures or  scans of my auto insurance verification, driver's license, passport, voter ID, and other stuff there.

* Disclosure - I am NOT an insurance salesman. I do not work for, nor do I receive any money or benefits from any insurance company. If any insurance companies would like to send me money or free stuff, that would probably be fine by me. Because I'm not an insurance pro or lawyer, though, I can't make any guarantees to any claims you may have now or in the future. I've just seen too many friends get screwed over due to lack of the right coverage. If you are an insurance pro or lawyer & would like to comment or correct me on anything, I'll gladly act on that.

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