If you live somewhere impacted by hurricanes, we're now in the middle of the summer, meaning it's time to get your home and family prepared for the potential of a storm if you haven't already.
Many homeowners felt how devastating hurricanes could be last year when Ian hit Florida in September 2022. Hurricane Ian led to hundreds of thousands of homeowners filing insurance claims related to the storm. Hundreds of thousands of homeowners filed insurance claims related to Hurricane Ian.
Hurricanes are notoriously devastating, and in the Atlantic region, their season goes from June through November.
While there are certain things you have no control over when it comes to a hurricane, there are other things you can do to ensure you're prepared.
Go Over Your Insurance Policy
One of the first things you should do every year to prepare for hurricane season is to check the details and fine print of your homeowner's insurance policy. Before filing a claim, you want to be clear on what's covered and what isn't as well.
Homeowner's insurance policies typically have exclusions, and you may need a separate policy or to purchase endorsements to be fully covered. You might also have a separate hurricane deductible different from the one for a standard claim.
Contact your insurer or agent directly to discuss your policy and identify any gaps in coverage.
Something to remember regarding insurance is that flooding is often not covered by standard homeowners insurance policies. If you're in a hurricane zone, flood insurance can be an investment that's well worth it.
You can't buy flood insurance as a last-minute purchase, and there's often a 30-day waiting period before a policy will go into effect if you buy coverage through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
Trim Your Trees
When a storm comes, whether it's a hurricane or not, hanging tree limbs can lead to significant damage. Trim all the trees and bushes around your house to ensure they don't become projectiles if there's a storm. If you have dead trees, these need to be removed. Otherwise, they're at a high risk of being uprooted if there's a storm.
Have Your Roof Inspected
If you have roof damage, it's not necessarily always apparent. It's a good rule of thumb to inspect it by a professional once a year. This is one of the best ways to protect your home from water damage if there's a hurricane or another type of storm.
Roof damage is common during hurricanes because of the exposure to the wind and driving rain these storms bring with them. Water damage can damage your roof's structure, increasing the chances it will collapse.
You might also consider having your roof inspected to prepare your home for hurricane season and consider hurricane straps or truss tie-downs. These can be installed to strengthen your roof against high winds.
Other things to do related to your roof include checking your gable bracing and replacing loose or missing braces, and you should search for cracks in the areas at risk for leaks.
Storm Shutter and Door Installation
Storm shutters and doors aren't cheap but can protect your home. While it is a big expense, you might also be able to offset the investment by having a lower rate on your homeowner's insurance premiums.
What to Do if a Hurricane Is Imminent
Many of the tips above are things you can do at any point; the earlier you do them, the better.
Then there are those things that you should do only if a hurricane is looking likely or imminent, including:
- Prepare for pressure changes if you're in a high-rise building. The wind pressure goes up with height.
- Put sandbags in front of your doors to keep some of the water out.
- Fill your bathtub with water because if you experience a power outage, your water pump will stop working too.
No one wants to deal with a hurricane, but being proactive in your preparations can reduce the damage to your home and the disruption to your life that you would otherwise experience.