June 1 marks the beginning of Atlantic hurricane season, which ends on November 30. This season NOAA predicts between four and eight named storms may become hurricanes and between one and four could become major Category 3 or above storms, which have winds in excess of 111 mph. Take steps to prepare and have an action plan in case you need to evacuate and to ensure that you have sufficient supplies for a few days. Put together a disaster supply kit with a flashlight, batteries, first aid supplies, cashl, nonperishable food and water.
From an insurance perspective, wind damage from tropical storms and hurricanes is covered under standard homeowners, renters and business insurance policies. Flood damage is excluded under standard home and business policies. Separate flood coverage can be purchased from FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and from a few private insurance companies. In most cases, a 30-day waiting period applies after purchasing flood insurance before the policy becomes effective. Therefore, it's important to purchase coverage in advance. Once a storm is threatening, it's too late to get coverage for that specific event.
Damage to cars from tropical storms and hurricanes is covered under the optional comprehensive portion of an auto insurance policy. Comprehensive coverage includes wind damage, flooding and falling objects such as tree limbs.
Steps you can take to make your home more hurricane proof
There are a number of things you should do in advance to make sure that your property is ready should a hurricane come your way this season.
- Trim or remove damaged trees and limbs. This general takes advanced planning, so don't wait until a storm is imminent.
- Check rain gutters and downspouts. Secure anything that is loose and clear any clogged areas or debris to prevent water damage to your property.
- Check windows and doors. Consider retrofitting to reinforce and secure the roof, windows and doors as needed. Don't forget to check garage doors.
- Get a generator. Consider purchasing a portable or installed generator to provide power during outages. After a hurricane you may be without power for days. Keep generators and other alternate power/heat sources outside, at least 20 feet away from windows and doors and protected from moisture. Hire an electrician to properly connect a generator to your home. This isn't a do it yourself project unless you are an experienced electrician.
Beyond home preparations, take some time to consider what your insurance needs might be after a hurricane using a Hurricane Season Insurance Checklist. Contact your insurance agent to ensure that your coverage and limits are sufficient for your needs.