June 1 marked the start of the 2018 hurricane season. Already, weather experts are predicting a near or more “average” hurricane season than 2017 brought.
“Average” may sound comforting, especially after last season, but experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) say 2018 will still see 10 to 16 named storms, 5 to 9 hurricanes, and 1 to 4 major hurricanes.
It only takes one storm to lose everything. For homeowners and businesses in hurricane-prone areas, it’s critical to prepare your property for a major storm.
Protecting yourself and your property
Mike Brown, CPCU, VP at Golden Bear Insurance Company, says his biggest piece of advice to property owners is to educate yourself.
“If you’re in a hurricane-prone region of the country, be aware of it and of the recommended evacuation routes and protocols for your area. Make a plan with your family about where to go and how to stay in contact in the event of a storm,” Brown says.
“Remember, whether you’re a homeowner or a business owner, to think ‘people first.’ Have a plan to protect your family, your employees, when the storm hits,” Brown adds. “Secondarily, think about how to protect property as best you can. It’s a lot easier to repair a building than it is to repair people.”
For property, you need to know whether any structure is built to withstand a hurricane or other storm, Brown says. “Know if your home or business is built with hurricane-force winds in mind. Do you have hurricane clips on the roofs? Are the windows storm-resistant? These are all important elements to know about in order to properly protect your property.”
A major element to prepare for is flooding, especially for coastal residents or any properties near waterbodies.
For this reason, Brown says residents on the West and Gulf coasts have a lot more to worry about, as excessive rainfall events from tropical storms push unusual amounts of rain into areas like Southern California, creating life-threatening mudslides and flash flooding.
The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) encourages residents of hurricane-prone areas to look out for directions from officials and prepare for possible flooding events.
“Torrential downpours can produce dangerous flooding, so if your home is near water or in a low-lying area, make sure you are prepared to seek higher ground,” Nancy Egan, PCI’s regional manager, said in a statement.
PCI offers the following tips to prepare your property for a flood:
- Review your property insurance policy, especially the “declarations” page, and check whether your policy pays replacement costs or actual cash value for a covered loss.
- Inventory your household items, and photograph or videotape them for further documentation. Keep this information and your insurance policies in a safe place.
- Keep the name, address and claims-reporting telephone number of your insurer and agent in a safe and easily accessible place.
- Protect your property by covering all windows with plywood or shutters, moving vehicles into the garage when possible and placing grills and patio furniture indoors.
- Keep all receipts for any repairs so your insurance company can reimburse you.
- Check with your insurance adjuster for referrals to professional restoration, cleaning and salvage companies if additional assistance is needed.
There are a number of government resources for hurricane or flood victims. You can contact Federal Emergency Management Agency at 800-621-3362 or www.fema.gov, and consumers who have flood insurance policies through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) can contact either their flood insurance agent or the NFIP itself at (888) 379-9531 or www.floodsmart.gov.