In the state of Florida and for a handful of other states on the East Coast, hurricane season occurs during the period from June 1st through November 30th each and every year. That means the time outside of these months is the perfect opportunity to start making sure your home, your family, and your home insurance plans are all prepared for the rough weather that might potentially be headed our way this year.
Preparing Your Home for Hurricanes
There are two key elements to consider when prepping your home for hurricanes and tropical storms: the outside of your house, and the inside of your house.
Hurricanes can bring roaring winds reaching speeds of over 70 miles per hour and downpours of rain causing flooding over a foot deep. That means anything that’s usually kept outdoors that isn’t secure or waterproof should be taken into consideration. Before inclement weather arrives, make sure to clear both your back yard and your front yard of any loose items or debris that could blow around during the storm and damage your home or someone else’s property. This includes patio furniture, pool gear, gardening items, yard clippings, toys, sports equipment, grill equipment, and décor. Either bring it inside or secure it firmly to the ground.
Also be sure to cover up the windows and doors of your home. Installing storm shutters is the most surefire way to try and prevent flying debris and water from coming in through doors and windows, but if they might not be an option for your home, you can instead nail pieces of plywood to the outside frames. This is especially vital for your windows, as the layer of plywood can prevent glass from shattering and injuring people in your home. You’ll also want to make sure your car is adequately prepared should you need to evacuate by making sure the tank is full of gas and you have an emergency supply kit inside it.
And there’s just as much to prepare inside your home for a hurricane as there is to prepare outside of it. Be ready and willing to turn off your power if you see flooding, downed power lines, or if you’re forced to evacuate. Fill clean water containers as well as your sinks and bathtubs with drinking water in case you lose your water supply during the storm. Also make sure you’ve prepared and stored adequate emergency supply kits, which you can learn more about putting together inside our free hurricane preparedness eBook. In general, these kits should include enough food, water, medicine, power sources, safety items, and important documents to provide for your entire family.
Preparing Your Family for Hurricanes
Start by making sure everyone understands the difference between a hurricane “watch” and a hurricane “warning” so there’s no undue panic. A “watch” means a hurricane is possible, while a “warning” means it’s expected. From there, preparing your family should always involve making sure you have a concrete and actionable plan in place. This plan can include items like evacuation options, emergency escape routes, emergency equipment instructions, important contact information, itemized lists of supplies, and safety dos and don’ts.
It’s not only important to put this plan together, but to go through it thoroughly with everyone in your family to make sure they understand and are capable of adhering to as best they can. It also means, especially for those younger family members or first-timers who have never been through a hurricane, mentally and emotionally preparing them for what can sometimes occur during the worst of storms, like power outages, plumbing outages, and other dangerous scenarios.
And don’t forget your pets! They can be considered family too, so it’s important to have a plan in place for how your family will care for them during and after a hurricane. Make sure you have proper food and water supplies for them as well, that they aren’t left outside during the storm, and that they’re kept safely away from windows or other dangerous situations inside your home.
If possible, also be sure your home has enough items to keep you and your family entertained (without the use of electricity) for several days to several weeks. Such items can include books, board games, arts and crafts, and battery-powered electronics. When your family is unable to leave their home for an extended period of time, they will inevitably get restless, which means it’s as wise to prepare ways to entertain yourselves as it is to prepare life necessities.
Preparing your Insurance Plan for Hurricanes
A large part of making sure both your home and your family are adequately prepared for everything that hurricane season can bring is making sure you have the proper insurance coverage in place should you need to use it after-the-fact. Hurricanes can bring a variety of extensive damage to homes, including physical damage to the exterior caused by wind, flooding damage, and electrical damage. Any single one of these—are all of them combined—can affect being able to live inside your home.
A good home insurance plan has items in place for “regular” home damage, but your plan should also include addendums specifically for wind and water damage. You may be surprised to learn that most home insurance plans don’t offer “hurricane damage” clauses that are all-encompassing of any damage a hurricane might do. Your insurance provider is going to offer specific packages and add-ons for the damage that different elements of a hurricane can cause. If you’re a resident of Florida, and especially if you live near the coast, you’re going to want to make sure you have them in your plan.
It’s also important to make sure your plan includes some coverage for how those repairs will happen, as well as where your family will go while your house is largely unlivable until they do. If your home insurance plan doesn’t include these additional items of coverage, you could be left trying to pay huge bills for replacements and repairs directly out of your own pocket. This will only make your hurricane recovery process that much harder on you and your family.
The Whisler Law Firm takes hurricane preparedness very seriously. It’s why we offer so many free resources to learn more about hurricanes, and what do to before, during, and after they occur. It’s also why we take special care to help people who have suffered severe hurricane damage work with their home insurance providers when their adjuster might not be providing the care and coverage they should be. Hurricane damage is expensive and extensive to address, but that doesn’t mean home insurance companies have the right to deny coverage that your plan entitles you to.
If you’ve been through a hurricane and are having trouble working with your home insurance adjuster on getting the repairs you need, call our office at 833-529-5677 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation with our team. We’ll go over your home insurance plan with you, learn more about how the insurance company has been treating your situation, and see how we might be able to help.