While hurricane season is still a few weeks away, now is the time to prepare for what could be another difficult storm season. Follow these tips and you’ll be less worried when high winds and rain start to whip up outside your doors:
- Make sure you have flood insurance through either an endorsement from your insurance company or the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Many insurance companies now offer flood endorsements making it easier and, in many cases, less expensive to add this much needed coverage.
- Review your insurance policy with your agent to ensure it is up to date. Make sure coverage amounts are adequate and that all structures are insured.
- Invest in hurricane shutters or hurricane impact glass. During a hurricane, winds can reach 111-156 mph. Debris in the road and yard can go flying through windows and into your home if they aren’t protected.
- If you get accordion hurricane shutters, make sure you put the key to unlock them somewhere safe and, if possible, keep a copy somewhere accessible.
- If your budget or home design doesn’t allow for major improvements, purchase plywood in advance, before other homeowners make a pre-hurricane run on the local home improvement store. It can be used to cover your windows and add protection to your home.
- Buying a dual fuel generator gives you the ability to have power when gasoline may become scarce. In addition, propane tanks can be stored for longer periods of time than gasoline. It’s a great way to ensure you have some form of electricity during and after the storm.
- Determine your electrical necessities prior to a storm and get the size generator that meets those needs. Bigger generators power more items but use more fuel that may be scarce. Before the storm arrives, you must have enough fresh fuel to run the generator. Check the machine by running it monthly to make sure it’s operating properly.
- Make an emergency kit for your family and keep it in a place where it’s easily accessible. Include a first aid kit, battery-powered radio, flashlight and batteries, whistle, local maps, water, and cash. Include a copy of your homeowner’s insurance policy and laminate it to avoid water damage. You can also include extra items to keep your family comfortable such as your favorite snacks, or a battery-powered TV.
- Keep a supply of food that does not need to be refrigerated. Canned goods – Don’t forget the can opener! – are good provided the expiration date is in the future.
- Consider purchasing large tarps in advance that can cover roof leaks and store them in your garage for after the storm, as an extra precaution.
- If your policy does not already include ordinance and law coverage, discuss adding this important coverage with your agent. This coverage ensures you have additional repair coverage if your local building permit officials require undamaged property to be updated along with your storm damages to bring that part of the building up to current building codes.
- Take steps to learn your community’s hurricane evacuation routes and how to find higher ground. Determine where you would go if you needed to evacuate and how you would get there. Note: Before you leave your home, make sure you have all your important papers and your home is secure.
- Review details on how to file a claim so that, when the storm clears, you know what to do and what’s likely to happen if you experience damage.
- In the event you have a claim, contact your insurance agent and the claims department of your insurance company as soon as possible. Most insurance companies provide a list of preferred contractors, especially remediation and restoration companies that specialize in flood and fire cleanup. You will want to begin the process early, so you can document the damage for your insurance company and be prepared for its adjustor to assess the damage.
- Make sure you have a fully charged smart phone, disposable camera or a camera with fresh batteries so you can document the damage. Hint: Take pictures now to show the home’s condition before the storm arrives. Once a hurricane does hit and there is damage, you can better document the damage by sending before-and-after photos to your agent and the insurance company.
The moral of the story is to prepare in advance before a storm threatens our shores.
About the author: Clint B. Strauch is the President of Florida Peninsula Insurance Company, one of the largest homeowners insurance carriers in Florida. For more information, visit https://www.floridapeninsula.com.