Preparing documents before the storm can help with insurance claims after

To fully prepare for a major storm, experts say you need to do more than buy water, batteries, and food. Taking some simple steps now will make filing insurance claims quicker and easier if disaster strikes. 

To protect your property, insurance agent, Melissa Ems says the best place to start is knowing what you own.

"One of the biggest things I encourage is to take an inventory of all the contents in your house," she said.

Snap photos or take videos of your electronics, furniture and inside drawers.  It's also smart to gather receipts or know how much you paid for everything. That way you're not relying on memory when the insurance agent shows up.

"You have to remember how many pairs of socks you had, and how many plates you had, and you have to fill out that inventory form of the quantity, what is it, and the price so they can go ahead and reimburse you for that," Ems explained.

Write down the names of your insurance agent, the insurance company, your policy number and any important phone numbers to call to file a claim.

Then sit down and read that thick stack of policy papers.

"An insurance policy is a contract like any other contract, and it's got a whole lot of kinda strings to it," said attorney Charles Gallagher.

He recommends checking if you have adequate coverage for what you own. Also, check your deductible; a hurricane claim is different than other claims.

"At a very, very minimum you need to read what you're required to do in the event of a loss," Gallagher said.

Your policy likely requires you to reduce the loss, so you may have to put up a tarp or cover holes with boards before the insurance company can get there.

If you are a renter, the property owner is responsible for the building, but you still need coverage for everything you own.

"Your property owner is not going to insure the contents of your unit, so you're gonna need to be thoughtful in having your own insurance," said Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis.

Coverage for flood damage is always a separate policy from your homeowners or renters insurance, so you should also look to see if you have a flood policy. If not, you can sign start the process of getting it now, but there is a 30-day waiting period for the coverage to start.