Hurricanes can be devastating across levels. They cause massive damage to the environment, your home, and your property. Hurricane Harvey caused damage worth $125 billion, destroying an estimated 300,000 structures and 500,000 vehicles in Texas alone. With so much at stake, it would be foolhardy for people to forget to safeguard themselves from the upcoming hurricane season. Here are some of the most important things you’ll need to take care of before the new season sets in.
Basic Preparedness Tips
- Where to go: In case you need to evacuate, understand which local hurricane evacuation routes to take. Create a plan for where you can stay. Contact your local emergency management agency for more information.
- Put together a go-bag: Your disaster supply kit must include a flashlight, batteries, first aid supplies, cash, medication, NOAA weather radio, and copies of your critical documents such as your home deed, birth certificate, and insurance policies)
- Stock up: If you’re not in an area where you must evacuate from, and you decide to stay in your home, plan for sufficient supplies. These will be handy in case you lose power and water for many days are you aren’t able to leave due to blocked roads and flooding.
- Create a family emergency communication plan: Include work, school, and out-of-town contact information in your emergency contact list.
- Prepare your home: Make sure you trim your trees, secure your home’s roof, windows, and doors, and keep a portable generator by your side. Also, build a shelter/FEMA safe room that’s specially designed to withstand high winds and is out of flooding level.
Insurance Needs for Hurricane Season
Ensure Your Home’s Structure Is Adequately Covered
Your standard homeowner’s insurance will cover your home’s structure for disasters such as windstorms and hurricanes. It’s important to understand how these elements affect your insurance payout after a hurricane. Just adjust your policies accordingly. Check your homeowner’s policy limit and ensure that the amount is enough to rebuild your home after disaster strikes. The cost of rebuilding or repairing your home depends on many factors. Learn what the cost of rebuilding your property is, and what the real estate value of your home is. Also, understand your hurricane/windstorm deductible.
A hurricane deductible applies only to hurricanes and a windstorm deductible applies to any type of wind. If your policy includes a hurricane deductible, it’ll clearly state the specific trigger that would cause that deductible to go into effect. Unlike the usual dollar deductible on a homeowner’s policy, a hurricane or windstorm deductible is normally expressed as a percentage. It’s usually up to 5% of the insured value of your home’s structure.
If you’re living in an area that’s at high risk for hurricanes, your hurricane deductible can be at a higher percentage. Depending on your insurer and the state where you live, you have the option of paying more money in premiums in exchange for a lower deductible. These deductibles would affect the bottom line of your insurance payout. A high hurricane or windstorm deductible would mean you should put aside the additional money you need to rebuild your home.
Make a note of what your insurance policy covers and what it doesn’t cover. A standard homeowner’s policy covers hurricanes, theft, wind, explosion, lightning, and other disasters. But most policies have certain exclusions and those events won’t be covered by your policy. A common exclusion is flooding. That could cause inconvenience later on, since most natural disasters, and especially hurricanes, include some form of flooding.
If you live in an area that’s prone to floods and hurricanes, you must get a separate flood insurance policy. Sewer backups are another common exclusion and this isn’t covered by flood insurance policies either. Therefore, you should also get sewer backup insurance. If you own a coop apartment or condo, you’ll have to check with your management company and their bylaws. Understand what’s covered under the building’s master insurance policy versus the damages you need to cover in your co-op or condo insurance policy.
Ensure Your Possessions Are Adequately Insured
Imagine the cost of repurchasing all your furniture, personal possessions, and clothing. Your homeowner’s insurance, renter’s insurance policy, and other policies protect against loss or damage due to hurricanes. Determine the value of your possessions with a home inventory. Create a complete inventory of your belongings and their value. That would make it easier to see if you’re sufficiently insured or not. Otherwise, you may have to suffer the expense of repurchasing all your furniture, clothing, and other personal possessions.
Determine your possession’s value with a home inventory. Create a full inventory of your belongings and calculate their value. You’ll have a better idea of whether you’re sufficiently insured for the replacement cost or the cash value of the items. It’ll also help speed up your insurance claims process and help you provide proof of your losses for tax or aid purposes. Do review your policy to ensure you’re adequately covered as most homeowner’s policies provide around 50% to 70% of the amount of insurance coverage you have on the structure of your home. If you rent, you’ll know that your landlord’s insurance will only cover your home’s structure. In that situation, you’ll need a renter’s policy to protect your possessions.
Ensure Your Policy Provides Enough Coverage for Additional Living Expenses
ALE (Additional living expenses) will cover the extra costs you’ll incur if you need to live elsewhere in the case your home is rendered uninhabitable as the result of a hurricane, or any other insured disaster. While your apartment or home is being rebuilt or repaired, ALE will cover your hotel bills, restaurant meals, and more. They’d cover your expenses over and above your customary living expenses. Normally, the ALE policy limit is 20 percent of the insurance coverage on your home’s structure. Standard renter’s policies also provide for ALE.
Most insurers offer the option of higher coverage limits, depending on where you live. ALE reimbursements can be limited to a specific amount of time, so ensure you’re comfortable with your policy’s time limits. ALE reimbursements can also be limited to a specified amount of time, so ensure you’re comfortable with your policy’s time limits. If you rent out a part of your home, ALE coverage also reimburses you for your lost rental income. Ensure your policy reflects the current amount of your rental income.
Follow these steps, equip yourself with ample insurance, and you’ll be ready for the 2022 hurricane season in no time.