Along the Atlantic Seaboard, June through November is known as hurricane season and usually comes to a peak in August or September. For us on Cape Cod and in the Southern New England region, references back to Hurricane Bob of 1991 are prevalent this time of year. As a matter of fact, Hurricane Arthur dampened things just a couple weeks ago on the 4th of July! While people who live in coastal areas face the greatest risks, it is important to remember that tropical storms have the ability to travel beyond shore and move inland, causing a great deal of destruction with wind, storm surges and flooding. Planning ahead and preparing is the key to avoiding huge expenses and dangerous situations.
Review Insurance Coverage
Pay close attention to policy limitations, and be sure any commercial or homeowners property insurance is still in effect. Verify that it will cover the complete replacement cost of the property in the event of a weather related disaster. If there are limitations, be conscientious of them. Some people may want to consider purchasing additional riders to their existing homeowners policy or an umbrella policy, both of which are cost-effective options that can save you hundreds and even thousands in the long run. When any improvements are made to a home or other property structures, be sure to notify an agent to update values. Updating is always important, and remember that property values often increase over time regardless of improvements.
Verify That the Policy Covers Windstorms
Policies for people residing in certain areas may not include this type of storm coverage. There are separate policies that can be purchased to fill this gap. Also, consider buying flood insurance. A standard homeowners policy does not cover flood damage and if a property is considered to be in the flood zone, an elevation certificate is required to determine threat level. While the standard homeowners policy does cover water damage, there is a great difference between the two. Water damage is a result of problems inside or around the home such as burst pipes or leaks. Flood damage occurs when there are storms with flash floods or rising water around bodies of water such as bays, lakes, rivers and inlets.
Inventory Your Home
Whether you use a spreadsheet, our handy RogersGray app, or a notebook, you should have an inventory of your possessions. Yes, it’s safest when in electronic form, think about the cloud. Email it to a personal email address for safe keeping, keep a copy on the computer and on a flash drive or removable storage. Also, be sure your insurance agent receives a copy. It is also beneficial to take photos or a video of the home’s rooms and exterior to show the items that are there. Keep these photos secure along with the running inventory.
Develop A Safety Plan
If a hurricane or tropical storm is threatening the area, a person will have to decide whether to evacuate or stay. Always evacuate when local authorities recommend it. Stay off the roads when local government recommends it. The advice of these officials should be taken seriously, because it is based on the storm’s potential for destruction and its current strength. Also, follow these steps:
- Create a map of routes inland or to safe areas, and be aware of water crossing points (ie. low-lying bridges, or areas prone to tidal flooding)
- Locate and determine the most accessible emergency shelters.
- Have survival supplies such as food, water, batteries and radios available.
- Make sure there is an emergency communication system for family members, ensure that cell phones are fully charged.
- Designate meeting places for friends, neighbors or family ahead of time.
- Make sure doors and windows that are made of glass have shutters or plywood over them.
- Trim dead branches that hang over trees or touch the property’s structures.
- Put vehicles in a garage or other covered and safe place.
- Keep valuables away from windows and doors.
- Keep pets indoors.
- Lock and secure the home if leaving.
- When evacuating, take valuables and important documents along.
Hurricanes and tropical storms can leave families devastated and belongings destroyed if people are not prepared. The three main things to remember are to review insurance coverage before every hurricane season, secure the property to make it safe and eliminate possible hazards, and plan ahead. To learn more about insurance and additional coverage options that a homeowners or commercial policy excludes, discuss concerns with one of our dedicated insurance agents.