In the North Atlantic, hurricane season starts on June 1. It will last until Nov. 30, and there’s no guarantee that a hurricane will strike only between those dates. One could happen even as early as today, in the middle of spring. When a hurricane does threaten your community, you likely won’t have a lot of time to get ready for the potential damage. And that damage could become extremely costly. Instead of facing the potential for problems unguarded, what can you do to protect your home instead?
Home protection is one of the keys to security and damage minimization in the event of hurricanes. The more you protect the home, the less you may have to claim on your home insurance. Your homeowners coverage might help you, but only in certain cases, at certain time.
The Damage Hurricanes Might Cause
Hurricanes range in severity, from severe storms to devastating weather events. They can bring a variety of weather phenomena to the areas they strike. Some of these might include:
- Heavy, ongoing rain and flash flooding
- Storm surge from rising water bodies
- High, rapidly changing winds (above 71 mph)
- Tornadic activity
You don’t want to face any of these weather scenarios alone. Put together in a hurricane, you can easily see how they might devastate your property and lifestyle. Some of the damage might include:
- Damage to the home’s roof or structure from falling or airborne debris
- Foundation damage
- Landscaping damage from high wind and water
- Interior and exterior water damage from penetrating rain and flooding
- Fires triggered by lightning strikes or downed power lines
- Destroyed interiors and lost, soiled belongings
In each of these cases, the repairs might cost thousands of dollars. In others, the home might prove a total loss. You might not be able to repair, you might have to rebuild. And you might lose countless precious belongings that you cannot replace.
Insurance Coverage for Hurricanes
If you have a homeowners insurance policy, you might have help in the wake of hurricanes. However, you’ll likely need to adjust and augment your coverage to get the best levels of protection.
Standard homeowners insurance usually contains a variety of assistance. It usually always contains property and structure coverage. Therefore, in the event of damage or destruction of the house itself, you’ll be able to rebuild. Policies can usually offer replacement cost insurance for the home’s structure. Therefore, you can rebuild the house using materials of similar or lesser value, at today’s prices.
Furthermore, you’ll also likely have contents insurance for the possessions inside your home. Therefore, if a hurricane damages your belongings, you’ll likely have some help replacing these items. Still, policies will usually only pay a maximum amount of money overall and per item. Therefore, you might need to adjust your coverage by scheduling items.
However, hurricane coverage on homeowners insurance will come with its limitations. Of course, all policies will have maximum financial limits and certain exclusions. Florida law requires most home insurers to provide wind damage coverage if the National Hurricane Center declares the event a hurricane. Nevertheless, even homeowners coverage might not cover damage caused by floods.
For weather-related water damage, you’ll likely need flood insurance. This coverage will insure property and possessions damaged by things like storm surge or flash flooding. It comes backed by the federal National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). In many cases, mortgage lenders will require those in flood zones to carry flood coverage. Therefore, you shouldn’t hesitate to get coverage.
Preparing Your Home for Hurricane Risks
Even if you have airtight insurance for your property, that doesn’t mean you have coverage available for all losses. High-value policies generally will not cover all possible losses. Therefore, if you do what you can to minimize damage before a hurricane strikes, you’ll be able to reduce the chances that your policy will run out of the help it can provide.
- Remove every item from outside of your home that could become airborne. Store everything from grills, to lawn furniture, potted plants and decorations inside a home.
- Make sure there is no existing damage to your home’s structure or roof. Look for leaks, broken siding, leaning foundations or loose window glass.
- Cut away dead branches or foliage from near the home. This will reduce the chances of wind making these items become airborne.
- Make sure your gutters are clean and direct water away from the house. This can help prevent water from flooding the house.
- If necessary, move all property inside the home to higher elevations. If you have a second floor or working attic, it is often best to try to move the most at-risk belongings into these areas.
- Keep a supply of First Aid materials, clean water, batteries and nonperishable food on hand in the home.
- Should evacuation orders affect your area, abide by them. It is almost always better to board up the home and flee a hurricane than to try to ride it out. When leaving, take your most important belongings with you, like your medications, crucial possessions, pets and mementoes.
Only return home after you get an all-clear that the hurricane is gone. Then, call your homeowners insurance provider. Claims are likely to skyrocket following hurricanes. Therefore, you’ll need to work patiently to clean up the damage.
Also Read: Home Inspections and Improvements to Make This Year