Hurricane season is here. While we’ve had a slow start to the Atlantic season, September is often a busy storm month. Homeowners across hurricane regions still need to know how to prepare for a hurricane. Even if this year proves to be a mild hurricane season, it’s never too early to prepare for next year.
Making your home more insurable in hurricane-prone areas takes some effort, but it pays off when severe weather strikes. Read on to learn more tips for improving insurability in hurricane-prone areas.
How to Prepare for a Hurricane and Make Your Home More Insurable
Hurricanes are costly natural disasters. Hurricane Katrina remains the most expensive on record at $186.3 billion, with Hurricanes Harvey ($148.8 billion) and Maria ($107.1 billion) not far behind. With the potential for expensive damages, having insurance in place to help protect against this risk is critical for homeowners.
But this coverage can be expensive since insurance companies are assuming a high risk in many cases. If your home is in a hurricane-prone area, try some of these tips to make it more insurable.
Research and resolve ways a hurricane can damage your property.
Consider all the ways a hurricane can damage your home and property. Once you begin making a list, you’ll see the areas you need to improve before the next storm. Think about how high winds could affect trees and other landscaping, as well as sheds, outbuildings, and garages. Consider the effects of heavy rain and lots of standing water on basements and sewer systems.
Make sure to assess your home’s defenses against wind and rain — the windows, doors, roof, and siding are all potential weak points. Look at ways to make your home more secure:
- Install hurricane shutters on windows and sliding glass doors, or have plywood cut to fit so you can nail it in place before a storm
- Purchase wind-rated exterior doors
- Assess and replace old garage doors and tracks with wind-rated ones
- Trim dead branches and remove overhanging tree limbs that could fall on your home
- Remove projectiles in your landscaping and have a plan to secure outdoor furniture during a storm
Follow the IBHS Fortified home standards.
The IBHS, or Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, researches ways to make homes and businesses more resilient. They have focused on creating standards for commercial and residential buildings and roofs. Homeowners and potential home buyers can follow the standards to determine how their house might do in severe storms.
Some states, like Alabama, have programs in place to require insurers to write an endorsement that would replace a damaged roof with a bronze fortified one at an additional premium. And in some states, some insurance companies may offer a discount for homes that meet IBHS fortified home or roof standards. Building to the IBHS standards or purchasing a home that meets the fortified home requirements could make securing affordable homeowners insurance easier.
Take an inventory of your home and personal property.
Knowing what you own, and the value of your property, helps when you need to purchase homeowners insurance or file a claim. You’ll need to know how much your personal property is worth so you purchase sufficient insurance. To do that, you will want to make a list of your belongings and their value. For expensive items, keep receipts.
Consider taking a video inventory with your smartphone to make the process easier. Walk around the outside and inside of your home, then catalog your belongings. Digitize your receipts and keep a duplicate copy of your electronic files on a flash drive — stored in a secure location away from your home.
Be sure to share these tips with your policyholders who reside in hurricane-prone areas — and use them yourself, too!
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