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Home coverage, plans come in handy as severe weather hits

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Homeowners insurance may be a small price to pay in the event of severe weather. Homeowners insurance may be a small price to pay in the event of severe weather.
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(RNN) - Natural disasters come as a harrowing surprise to all homeowners, but the lack of insurance can be both surprising and costly.

The U.S. suffered nearly $65 billion in insured losses following natural disasters in 2012, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Those numbers are up from the $43 billion recorded in 2011.

One insurance company is helping homeowners protect their homes and possessions with a new smartphone application.

Allstate Insurance has created the "Allstate Digital Locker," which allows homeowners to take photos from room to room of images that could be damaged in the event of devastating severe weather. The photos are archived for future claims.

"There are a lot of things that can happen to a home, but there are also a lot of things you can do proactively that would make things easier in the event of damage of loss," said Ron Stouffer, senior vice president at Allstate Insurance in a news release.

In a 2012 survey of adults with homeowner or rental insurance, Allstate found that 43 percent of respondents were concerned about damages because of natural disasters. Nearly 22 percent of respondents were not sure if their insurance covered natural disasters, while 53 percent believed the U.S. has dealt with more natural disasters through the last several years.

Nearly a third of respondents did not know if their insurance would cover natural disasters at all, while only 8 percent said if they would take their insurance information with them if they were forced to evacuate their homes.

Allstate isn't the only group creating severe weather preparedness technology.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners also created an app to help homeowners collect and keep records of their homes in the event of natural disasters.

Both apps are available on iPhone, iPad and Android devices.

The new apps for insurance and preparedness for severe weather come as many insurance companies have withdrawn coverage in states with high severe weather occurrences, according to the Insurance Journal.

"Getting through these incidents can be made considerably easier by taking the time to identify what you have and to learn what your policy covers," said Stouffer.

FEMA has prepared awareness plans on its website in both English and Spanish, so citizens can be prepared in every aspect.

"Every year, thousands of people are impacted by severe weather threats such as tornadoes and severe weather," FEMA says on its website.

In initiatives by FEMA and NOAA, the groups created National Severe Preparedness Week. Recognized March 3-9, 2013, states prepped for severe weather specific to their state in the forms of tornado and hurricane drills, flood preparations and other severe weather related incidents, such as power outages.

In 2012, data showed that severe weather caused nearly 2,600 injuries and caused more than 450 deaths.

The No. 1 cause of deaths in severe weather in 2011 was tornadoes, according to statistics gathered by the National Weather Service's U.S. Natural Hazards Statistics.

NOAA also has a calendar of severe weather preparation events by state on its website.

Insure Online suggests that homeowners should shop around before purchasing insurance, compare prices to other homes in your price range and knowing your coverage plan well.

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