Hurricane season is quickly approaching and be properly prepared is extremely important. Hurricanes can do shocking damage to your home and finances if your home is not prepared, and you are not carrying the correct insurance coverages.
Here is a quick overview of how to prepare for hurricane season as well as how to make sure you are fully covered against hurricane damage.
Plan your evacuation
If you live close to the water, in the path of the hurricane or in a home that is not capable of surviving a hurricane (mobile and tiny homes are an example) you should have an evacuation plan in place. Discuss the safest and quickest routes out of your area and decide on a meeting place in the event your family is separated during the evacuation.
Determine the location of the closest shelters and plan at least two routes for getting there in the event the storm has damaged roads. If you have pets, determine if they can come with you. Pack a go-bag with all necessary medications, important papers, and some cash.
Doing a trial run will help make sure everyone understands where to go and will give them more confidence in the event they have to evacuate for real. Doing a trial run once a year is highly recommended by experts in the field.
Stock non-perishable emergency supplies
Plenty of non-perishable food items and other emergency supplies are a necessity when a hurricane is headed your way. It is best to purchase these supplies well before a storm is heated towards you as stores will be overrun once a hurricane warning is issued. Here are few items you should keep stocked in your home during hurricane season:
- Extra batteries
- Lamps with fuel
- Tools for emergency home repairs
- Necessary prescription drugs
- 14-day supply of drinking water
- Canned or non-perishable food
- First aid kit
- A portable NOAA weather radio
Do an inventory of your personal property
If your home is damaged or destroyed by a hurricane and have to make a claim on your insurance policy, a home inventory will make the process much quicker and will ensure you are fairly paid for your possessions.
While this can be a tedious process there are plenty of apps out there that make the process easier. Take photos and video of all of your possessions and for more expensive items such as televisions, computers and electronics it is a good idea to record serial numbers and price paid for the item. Keep your inventory in the cloud or off site to ensure it isn’t destroyed.
Review your insurance coverages
As inflation has pushed up the cost of repairing and rebuilding homes, many homeowners may find themselves underinsured. Check your coverage levels with your agent to ensure you are carrying the proper amount of coverage. It is important to note that once a storm is named many insurers will not allow you to make changes to your policy or purchase new coverages.
Homeowners insurance policies almost always exclude coverage for flood damage so you will need to carry a separate flood insurance policy to be fully protected. Flood damage is common with hurricanes as is storm surge which is also excluded from a homeowners policy. It is important to remember that flood insurance has a 30-day waiting period before coverage goes into effect so you cannot wait until a storm is headed your way to purchase a flood insurance policy.
It is always a good idea to put a flood insurance policy in place well before hurricane season arrives to ensure your coverage is in force when a storm actually hits.
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Upgrade your homes protection
You can do hurricane prep work around your home that can help prevent hurricane damage. This can include items as simple as trimming trees or more complicated and expensive upgrades such as replacing your roof with wind resistant materials. Here are a few upgrades to consider:
- Use lightweight landscaping materials such as bark which is much lighter and will not damage your home as much as rock or gravel if a hurricane hits.
- Installing storm shutters on your home will not only protect it during a hurricane but will also result in a discount on your homeowners insurance.
- Trim up trees that are close to your home and could fall on your house during a hurricane.
- Install hurricane proof doors and dead bolts on all exterior doors that are at least 1 inch long.
- Install garage doors that are hurricane resistant and are approved for impact protection as well as wind pressure.
- Seal up outside openings in the walls such as vents and electrical outlets.