Hurricane season officially starts on June 1st and continues on until the 30th of November—a span of time that can mean a serious threat for home, business and other property owners that are prone to be damaged by one of mother nature’s most destructive displays. The last category 5 hurricane to make landfall in the U.S.—hurricane Irma that raged from late August to mid-September 2017—resulted in 134 fatalities and over $64 billion dollars of damage1, substantiating the need for preparedness when living in a hurricane prone area.
While most residents of areas affected by hurricanes evacuate well before the storms begin, they still leave their homes, businesses and other property behind to the wrath of flooding and wind damage. Although forecasts for this year’s hurricane season decreased from its original predictions, researchers are still anticipating a near normal Atlantic hurricane season2, meaning that affected property owners must be prepared. Luckily, there are a few concrete steps property owners can take to protect themselves and their property.
Prepare the Exterior and Interior of Your Property
Hurricanes are destructive because their high winds and tendency to dump catastrophic amounts of rain in short periods of time leads to widespread flooding. While newer houses and buildings in hurricane-prone areas are increasingly being built to withstand lower class hurricanes, existing houses and commercial buildings can and should be reinforced before weathering an incoming storm.
Windows should be shuttered and reinforced with sturdy boards or metal covers that will prevent them from shattering; shattered windows allow wind and rain into the interior of the home or business, jeopardizing the interior integrity. Wind can also cause the pressure inside the home to fluctuate wildly; when combined with wind blowing outside the house, extreme damage can befall the roof or other exterior features of building.
Garage doors also need to be reinforced; their light nature means they can crumple like tissue paper against hurricane winds and rain, and they also open up a much larger space for wind to enter the interior of the home, resulting in more fluctuating pressure buildup and subsequently more severe structural damage. Add additional support to the garage door with metal or wood beams that anchor the top and bottom of the door to increase wind resistance. Supports should be arranged in the middle of the door, as garage doors are already anchored on the sides.
Doors should be locked, bolted and secured from the inside so that they’re less likely to fly open due to high wind speeds. Property inside should be protected with plastic coverings and weighed down to prevent water damage and the probability of it becoming airborne.
Prepare and Remove Vehicles from the Scene
Cars, motor cycles and other vehicles should ideally be evacuated with residents, as they’re harder to secure against hurricanes than a residence or business property. Take pictures of your vehicle before the hurricane begins if possible; this will make insurance claims that much easier if damage is sustained in the course of the storm. Remove all valuable items from the vehicle and store them in a secure place. Park the car in an area clear of overhanging trees and other features that may become hazards in the wind, rain or subsequent flooding. Additionally, a car cover or window protection covers or films may be a viable solution to protecting your vehicle’s windows from smashing and exposing the interior to the elements. Gas tanks should also be filled; not only does it allow the car to be used after/during the storm, but it also adds weight to the vehicle, making it less likely to flip or be moved in the high winds.
Motor cycles, boats and other vehicles should be stored as securely as possible, and be covered with protective coverings and window protection if applicable. Vehicles on trailers should be moved to higher ground to avoid flood damage, or otherwise being carried away when the water level rises.
Check Your Insurance Policies and Coverage
This last tip goes beyond physically securing your property and deals with the financial side of hurricane damage. Serious hurricanes result in billions of dollars in damage3, with property often seriously damaged, if not outright destroyed. It’s crucial to reevaluate your insurance policies on residences, businesses and vehicles before a hurricane wreaks havoc. Standard home insurance protects against wind damage, but most policies don’t protect against flooding. This means that separate flood insurance should be obtained before residences or businesses are up to their roofs in water.
The same can be said regarding vehicle insurance; all but the most comprehensive insurance policies cover damage caused by hurricanes. It’s never a bad idea to reevaluate your policies before a storm touches down. Property insurance for businesses should be taken into special account, as there are varying degrees of coverage that deal with natural disasters and extreme weather.
Want to reevaluate your property, personal or home insurance before the next big storm hits? Contact the insurance experts at GMG Insurance today to make sure your property is properly covered before it’s too late.