Plan now for how you’ll evacuate your valuables in an emergency

You can’t plan for every emergency, but in the case of some natural disasters, such as hurricanes, wildfires and rising flood waters, you may have time to take action. Since that’s true, why not think now about how you can be prepared to evacuate your high-value assets to a place of safety?

Our friend Karen Waslawski from Hagerty, a trusted advisor within the collector car industry, shared the following guidelines to help you set up your own plan for evacuating your valuables:

1. Think about people first.

As much as you care about the things you love, please make sure you first have a plan in place to make sure those you care about are safe before moving on to protecting your valuables.

2. Identify a safe evacuation location.

First and foremost, you want a temporary storage facility that is enclosed, clean, dry and far from the reason you’re evacuating in the first place. Ideally, your temporary storage would also be climate-controlled, gated and staffed for monitoring. Search online for public or private storage facilities that may be available for collector cars. Art warehouses can be an option for your valuable collections.

Once you’ve determined that your safe location meets all your protection requirements, make sure you’ll have adequate space to accommodate the number of vehicles you’ll need to store plus whatever other valuables, such as artwork and antiques, you may also want to evacuate.

Finally, think about how far away your current storage is from the “safe” locations you’re considering. Will you have time to get your cars and valuables to them in a reasonable period of time?

3. Decide who will move everything in an emergency.

You can plan to move your valuables yourself, but if you’re frequently out of town or your collection is too large to move yourself, it may make sense to work with a vendor in advance to move your valuables for you in an emergency.

To find a vendor, get referrals from your trusted advisors, then study the recommended companies online to verify their expertise in moving expensive cars, fine art, antiques or collectibles.

Once you’re satisfied that they’re experienced and trustworthy, ask about specific precautions needed to protect your valuables:
  • Do their workers wear white gloves and clothing with no metal, for instance?
  • Do they supply packing materials?
  • Will they conduct pre-pickup and post-delivery inspections?
  • Will they unpack, assemble and install items if necessary?
  • Are they properly insured? (You’ll want your valuables fully protected while they’re out of your care.)

Once you’ve chosen a vendor, work out all the details in advance so you have a solid plan in place:
  • Gather all of your vendor’s contact details, including email and cell phone numbers, and store them where they’re easily accessible.
  • Make sure they have your contact information as well.
  • One final note on vendors: Should a storm or fire head your way, make the decision to call them as soon as you can. In natural disaster scenarios, roads may close to inbound traffic and the truck or trailer coming to get your valuables might not be able to get through.

If you plan to evacuate your valuables yourself, have packing materials on hand, or know in advance how you’ll quickly obtain everything you’ll need at a moment’s notice, such as a trailer, soft straps and shipping cartons. Check your inventory periodically to make sure you have what you need and that everything is in working order.

4. Now think about the evacuation itself.

Have an idea of how much you can move in one trip and how many trips will be necessary.
  • When time is short, you’ll want to have easy access to your evacuation facility, so keep track of any security codes needed for entering the building and phone numbers for contacts to notify of your arrival.
  • If you’ll be driving expensive vehicles to a safe location, you’ll want to plan in advance for who will fuel them up and how. With catastrophes often come power outages, and gas can become difficult to obtain at the last minute.
  • Also think about keys. Will multiple people need access to them, and if so, where will they quickly be found?
  • Learn how to open your garage doors manually in case there’s a power outage and you can’t open them with the touch of a button.

5. Protect your valuables for the move.

First, determine who will be responsible for preparing your cars and valuables for an evacuation. Whether that will be you or someone else, think now about what will be needed to get the job done quickly.
  • If you’ll be hauling vehicles, use soft straps to secure them so there’s no movement during the trip. For other assets, such as fine art or collectibles, consider whether cardboard or prefabricated custom crates will be needed.
  • Take time now to create an inventory of what needs to move, and prioritize what should get moved first.
  • Give each item a tag number to help you identify it after a move.
  • Create a map that shows where each item is located in your home and garage, so helpers can find and move those valuables efficiently.
  • Take photos of each item so you have proof of any damage that might occur during the move.

If you should have to evacuate your valuables, inspect everything as soon as possible upon arrival to its safe location. If something was damaged, contact your insurance provider immediately.

6. Practice your evacuation plan.

Consider how long it will take to both prepare and move your assets so that when time is of the essence, you’ll have a good idea of how much time you’ll need to accomplish what can be a large and complex move.

Also, if you’ll be evacuating your assets yourself, plan your driving route well in advance. Consider printing the directions and placing them in a safe place in case digital directions, such as GPS or Google Maps, become unavailable.

Finally, and this is important, do a dry run of as much of your evacuation plan as you can to resolve any issues you might discover along the way. Ideally, you’ll also identify an alternate route or two, in the event you come across a downed tree or blocked road during your evacuation.

7. Review your plan with your insurance provider.

Ask whether your valuable assets will have adequate coverage while they’re being moved to a safe location. Also make sure your valuables are insured for their correct value; an annual or quarterly review with your insurance advisor is the best way to keep your coverage up to date.

Planning for whatever you can plan for today helps lessen the blow of whatever tomorrow might bring. The bottom line is, you’ll feel more in control and you’ll better protect the assets you value the most.


The information used to create this article was obtained from sources believed to be reliable to help users address their own risk management and insurance needs. It does not and is not intended to provide legal advice. Nationwide, its affiliates and employees do not guarantee improved results based upon the information contained herein and assume no liability in connection with the information or the provided suggestions. The recommendations provided are general in nature; unique circumstances may not warrant or require implementation of some or all of the suggestions. Nationwide, the Nationwide N and Eagle and Nationwide Private Client are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.

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