Apps that could help save your life in an emergency


If you had to evacuate your home in the next hour or two, would you know what to do? An hour or two gives you a bit of a head start – often, people caught in emergencies have less time to prepare than that. September is National Preparedness Month – during the month, we’ll offer a few suggestions for preparing for the unexpected. Today, we’ll highlight a few apps that might help in the event of an emergency.

Smartphone with cloud of icons

The FEMA App (smartphone app for mobile devices) contains disaster safety tips, an interactive emergency kit list, emergency meeting location information, and a map with open shelters and open FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs). Also has Disaster Reporter feature allowing you to take and submit GPS photo reports of disasters so they can be displayed on a public map for others to view.

Red Cross has a great suite of free emergency apps. These include apps for weather related disasters such as tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, and wildfires , with state-by-state news, tips, and more. They also have apps for first aid and finding shelter in an emergency.

Pocket First Aid and CPR  from the American Heart Association offers quick, concise and clear first aid and CPR instructions from a user’s smartphone that can help a user save a life in the event of an emergency. This is the same app that helped save a life in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Read the incredible story of Dan Woolley, who survived 65 hours under rubble by using this application

When cutting budget corners, avoid the 5 biggest insurance mistakes


In the post holiday season, we’re all looking for ways to tighten our belts to save money in the new year – particularly since the economy continues to be sluggish, with no end in sight. But when making resolutions for the year ahead, the Insurance Information Institute (III) reminds us not to be penny wise and pound foolish by cutting insurance costs in a way that could cause problems later. III advises consumers to avoid the 5 Biggest Insurance Mistakes:

  • Insuring a home for its real estate value rather than for the cost of rebuilding
  • Selecting an insurance company by price alone
  • Dropping flood insurance
  • Only purchasing the legally required amount of liability for your car
  • Neglecting to buy renters insurance

III elaborates on each of these mistakes and suggests better alternatives.
Other common mistakes that we see, which can cost you money:

  • Forgetting to keep beneficiaries updated
  • Not understanding what a policy does and doesn’t cover
  • Buying too much or too little coverage
  • Forgetting to update coverage to reflect major life changes, such as birth, marriage, new homes
  • Not verifying agent or insurer licenses
  • Not taking advantage of potential discounts

Preparing for catastrophes


With the anticipated landfall of Gustav, we’re thick into hurricane season, which continues through November 30. Homeowners in the hurricane belt here in the U.S. are preparing for what is expected to be an active September and October. Disaster relief organizations such as the Red Cross offer hurricane preparation advice, with information about a personal evacuation plan, including supplies that should be part of your emergency kit.
A few preparatory steps can also make filing insurance claims after the storm an easier process. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) offers a special disaster preparedness section of their website, along with a one page tip sheet on Storm Preparedness: A Four–Step Process . Among their recommendations:

  • Review your insurance coverage in advance to understand what your insurance policy covers and what it excludes.
  • Take an inventory of your property – photos or videos can be helpful. They suggest storing photos on the web or with a relative.
  • Move all of your important documents to a safe location. Take them with you if you evacuate. Be sure to include the name of your insurance companies and agent, policy numbers and contact information.

And should your home or property suffer damage, NAIC’s guide to What Consumers Should Know When Faced with A Loss can also be very helpful.