The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 20, 2020, with the last few months being the most active for the Baltimore and Washington, D.C. areas. We’re a little more than halfway through the season, and we’ve seen some awful storms. Did you prepare for the season and what’s to come?
Preparing for hurricane season as a homeowner is more than just boarding up the windows and locking the doors. Here are some tips to ensure you are safe and well-insured this fall.
Check or Add Flood Insurance
99% of U.S. counties have been impacted by flood events since 1996, and the average flood claim payout is $52,000 according to FEMA. They say a single inch of water in your home can cause up to $25,000 of damage.
Homeowner’s insurance covers a lot of things, but flooding is not one of them. And though flooding is a national problem, only 15% of American households buy flood insurance.
Check with your insurance provider to see what your policy covers. If you haven’t added flood insurance, it’s time to start thinking about it.
Hurricanes also create high winds, so it’s worth checking on or adding a wind damage policy, too.
Do You Have Enough Coverage?
Underinsurance is an issue that affects many people. There are a few ways to check or update your coverage.
First, check your last home inventory. Have you bought a new TV or computer since then? Add that to your inventory.
Don’t have a home inventory yet? It’s easy to do. Go from room to room and record the items that you own. Electronics, jewelry, clothing, furniture, appliances, and home goods. Keep that list and date it. If you wish there are of course a number of free, online apps that will keep this inventory for you as well.
Keep in mind that costs and demand for construction services will go up after a hurricane. Along with a home inventory, talk to your insurer about any renovations or home improvements that have been made recently so you don’t end up underinsured.
Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute
Ideally, flood insurance should be purchased before hurricane season. But if you didn’t have it at the start of the 2020 season, waiting until next year may not be a good idea. And calling your insurance company when a storm is on the radar won’t work either.
Talk to your insurance agent as soon as possible. They can help you get estimates for insurance coverage from the National Flood Insurance Program (administered by FEMA).
Insurance coverage is a great way to make sure your home is protected after it’s been impacted by a storm. But there are a few things you can do to try and prepare your home to weather the storm better.
Store Important Documents
Insurance policies and paperwork, birth certificates, social security cards, and other important documents in your house are often irreplaceable. Store these items in a waterproof container, or a water- and fire-proof safe. Keep the container in a safe, dry place.
Do Some Preventative Maintenance
Take time to walk your property, inside and out, to look for potential areas of weakness. Is your house vulnerable to high winds or flooding? Doing some preventative maintenance on these areas can help you avoid costly repairs after the storm has passed.
Have an Emergency Plan
The time to develop an emergency plan is not during an emergency. Talk with your family or roommates about establishing a safe meeting place and keeping escape routes clear. Decide who will shut off the electricity, who is responsible for locking up specific areas in the event of an evacuation or disaster, and who grabs the family pet.
First-time homeowner? Looking to switch policies or explore your options? Click here to learn more about Gebco’s homeowner’s insurance.
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