Hurricane Matthew is moving toward the U.S. coast -- and for people living down South, the devastation is predicted to be huge. Specifically, the Consumer Federation of America is predicting upwards of 100,000 insurance claims for wind damage, with payouts for damages exceeding $7.4 billion.

While we're tucked safely in the Midwest -- if you have family or friends down South, please pass along these tips from the CFA:

Review your policy
Locate your homeowners or renters policy, and make sure it's in a safe place where you can reach it after the storm. Make sure you know how and where you'll file a claim. Store your agent's number in your smartphone.

Take inventory
Go through your house and take a video with your smartphone. Snap pictures of your belongings. The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCIAA) recommends that consumers save this inventory in a disaster-proof form, such as email or cloud-based note-taking services. The more detailed the list, the better -- include information such as the make and model of furniture, TVs and other big-ticket electronics.

Track expenses

As the storm approaches, be sure to keep track of any expenses you incur to mitigate damage, like boarding up windows, because they may covered by your insurance. Similarly, after the storm, keep receipts for any repairs you do yourself, or service you have done by professionals.

File away!
Insurance is there to help -- so don't hesitate to file claims for storm damage, even if the claims feel small or you're unsure about whether or not they'll be covered. Be sure to work with your agent to find out what compensation your policy entities you to!

These tips aren't just for homeowners living along the coast -- it's important for everyone to know what their insurance policies cover, how to file a claim and who their agents are.

Sources: Consumer Federation of America | Property Casualty Insurers Association of America
Photo credit: Forsaken Fotos, Hurricane Arthur.

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