The destruction hurricanes can bring might result in incalculable property losses. To the individual homeowner, they might prove devastating. So, what can you do in the meantime to make sure you’re ready in case one threatens?
Step One: Review Your Homeowners Insurance
Think about how much money you’ve put into your home over the years. The mortgage, property additions, possessions and everyday maintenance. They all have value. One hurricane could wipe out everything you’ve worked so hard to build.
With home insurance, you can get financial help to rebuild or replace property after destructive events. Still, you have to make sure your policy reflects the risks wrought by hurricanes.
- Ensure your policy covers the structure of the home, your personal possessions, and liabilities you pose to others. It never hurts to see if any items currently on your property have exclusions to coverage. Ask your insurance agent how to make changes to accommodate differences like these.
- Check your policy’s limits. Ensure coverage offers enough value to replace the whole home or particularly expensive items. Sometimes, this might be tricky. Older policies might not reflect the value of the your property and possessions as they are now. Have your agent make adjustments to reflect current property values.
- Most homeowners insurance policies don’t automatically come with flood coverage. Some also have other limitations on how they pay for wind damage or other weather impacts. Things like flooding and wind are common parts of hurricanes. Make sure your policy addresses these risks.
Your insurance agent will know where you live. They will likely make sure your policy includes certain lawful requirements regarding hurricane protection. However, never work on assumptions. Always ask your agent specifically how your policy addresses hurricanes. They can go over your coverage and help make sure you get enough protection.
Step Two: Preventive Maintenance Makes the Home More Secure
The strongest homes are usually the ones that receive the most care. By taking care of your home when the weather is good, you can make it better able to withstand bad weather.
- Your home’s roof ranks among its most important structural components. They often stand to sustain the most damage in storms. Make repairs to the roof as soon as they appear. Most roofs need total replacement about every five years. Keep a close eye on your attic or crawl space for signs of mold, pest infiltration or structural damage. They might be the first sign of roof problems.
- If the foundation has weakness, then the overall structure could come under threat. Cracks in your walls, floors or ceilings might signal foundation shifts. If you live in an area where the soil shifts, you might need a foundation re-alignment regularly.
- At minimum, you should clean out and repair your gutters regularly. This will help water run away from the home and keep flooding risks low. You might also make periodic adjustments to drainage ditches around the property. This can help guide the water downhill.
- Your home’s seals should remain strong and intact year-round. Basement seals, as well as closures around doors, windows and roofing, should keep pests, moisture and other vermin out of the home’s interior.
Step Three: Get Ready if a Storm Threatens
If you find out a hurricane is on the way, it’s likely time to spring into action. Though a storm might wind up missing you, it is a better idea to plan ahead. Some of the items you might need to protect your home include
- An electrical generator, flashlights and emergency flares
- Plywood to board up windows, doors and other entryways
- Sandbags to create artificial dams
- Furniture covers
- Padlocks and other security items to reduce the threat of looting
- Emergency supplies like non-perishable food and first aid items
If the authorities issue evacuation orders, always comply. Take particular valuables with you, and move other items to the most secure area of the home. In hurricanes, this is generally an elevated area.
Keep in mind that many insurers place freezes on new benefits in the immediate lead up to hurricanes. Therefore, if you find out a storm is on the way, it might be too late to make changes to your policy. Always make adjustments at convenient, low-risk times. Don’t wait until it is too late.