By: Eric Collison, Vice President of National Program Development at KWIG
Experts say that 2021 will be the seventh consecutive year of above-average hurricane activity. In fact, the NOAA predicts a range of 13-20 named storms with 6-10 having the potential to become hurricanes and 3 to 5 having the potential to become major hurricanes. The Atlantic hurricane season began on June 1st and extends until November 30th.
Are you prepared for the dangers and damages a hurricane can bring?
Last year’s horrific hurricane season generated 30 named storms, 13 hurricanes and 6 major hurricanes. When a hurricane strikes an area, it brings a number of serious hazards, including heavy rains, high winds, storm surges, flooding and even tornadoes.
The total estimated U.S. damage from hurricanes and tropical storms in 2020 was $37 billion, which ranks as the eighth highest total on record. Each of the 6 hurricanes that hit the U.S. caused more than $1 billion in losses. Of the many billion-dollar weather-related disasters that occurred last year, Hurricane Laura was the most expensive, costing $19 billion.
Are you prepared for hurricane season? The time to prepare is now – not when a hurricane is tracking in your direction.
4 steps to hurricane preparedness
If you live, work or own property in an area prone to hurricanes, take these 4 steps to properly prepare your home, business and property for hurricane season.
Make a hurricane plan.
Make a hurricane evacuation plan to ensure the safety of your family. Determine where you would go, how you would get there and what routes you could take, and make sure everyone in your household knows and understands the plan. Prepare a hurricane “go-bag” that includes necessities, such as clothing, bottled water and non-perishable snacks, to help you survive a few days away from home. Pay attention to emergency information and alerts throughout hurricane season. If you live in a mandatory evacuation zone and local officials tell you to evacuate, do so immediately!
Likewise, if you own or manage a hotel located in a hurricane-vulnerable state, having a hurricane plan isn’t just a good idea – it’s a must. Your hotel hurricane preparedness plan should include how you will maintain the safety of guests and staff, how you will protect the building and business records, how you will communicate throughout the storm, and how you will resume business. Most national hotel chains will have a plan you can access if you do not already have one in place. Be sure your staff is aware of and well-versed in the plan. It’s also a good idea to keep an emergency supply of food and water throughout hurricane season.
Prepare your home and/or property for a hurricane.
As we covered earlier, hurricanes cost our nation billions of dollars in damages, but there are ways to offset such devastating destruction. Here are a few simple construction measures you can take to strengthen and protect your home::
- Invest in storm shutters to shield your doors and windows or have plywood on-hand to board your windows as a hurricane approaches
- Secure garage doors
- Check your sump pump and make sure it’s working properly
- Add caulk to any cracks or holes where cables, pipes or wires enter your home
- Reinforce your roof by nailing down any loose shingles and installing hurricane clips
- Secure loose outdoor items, such as patio furniture, grills and garbage bins
- Trim trees and bushes to make them more wind resistant
- Clear gutters of any debris so water can flow freely
Hotels should take similar steps to prepare the property for a storm in addition to having a generator with an adequate fuel supply and functioning emergency lighting in case of a power outage. Hotels are often viewed as a safe haven for staff and guests in times of emergency, so it’s important that the property is safe and prepared.
Determine your hurricane risk.
What types of wind and water hazards could occur where you live, work or own property? Is your property in a designated flood zone? Remember, hurricanes are not just a problem for coastal areas — hurricanes can travel up to 100-200 miles inland unleashing torrential rains and flash flooding. Every single mile of the mainland U.S. Atlantic coast, from Texas to Maine, was under a watch or warning related to tropical cyclones at some point in 2020. Talk to your insurance agent about where you live and how to manage the risks you face.
Review and update your insurance policies.
An effective hurricane insurance plan is a combination of insurance policies to cover the potential damages from the two most devastating elements of a hurricane: wind and water. There are often different deductibles that come into play for different perils, so it’s important to understand the deductibles included, and not included, in your coverage.
For example, a named storm deductible is often applied separately from standard peril deductibles and is typically a higher dollar amount. Named storm deductibles apply to categorized hurricanes as well as typhoons, tropical storms or tropical cyclones declared by the U.S. National Weather Service and are commonly expressed as a percentage of the home’s insured value. Likewise, some policies include a wind/hail deductible, which applies to any kind of damage from a wind or hail event.
Flooding is a common and disastrous effect of a hurricane, but standard homeowners insurance policies do NOT typically cover flooding that originates outside of the home. Flood insurance covers losses directly resulting from flooding caused by heavy or prolonged rain, snowmelt, coastal storm surges, blocked storm drainage systems, levee dam failure and similar events. Unlike homeowners insurance, flood insurance doesn’t kick in immediately. Be aware, that in most cases, there is a 30-day waiting period, which will prevent you from buying a policy when a storm is tracking your way. If you don’t live in a flood zone or live in a flood zone without a mortgage, you are not required to have flood insurance; but you should consider investing in it to protect your property.
Beware of Moratoriums
We touched on the 30-day waiting period for flood insurance, but you should also be aware of moratoriums as you prepare for hurricane season. Occasionally, insurance companies will impose restrictions on purchasing and/or updated coverage as a storm or natural disaster approaches. For instance, an insurance company may declare a moratorium 3-5 days before the expected landfall of the hurricane.
All in all, having a thorough understanding of your coverage and deductibles is vital in preparing for hurricane season. Contact us to determine your hurricane risk and review your coverage.
Consult with your Experts in the Unexpected
Kemmons Wilson Insurance Group is here to help you assess the hurricane risk you and/or your business faces and tailor insurance policies and risk management tools that can mitigate the damages of a hurricane. Contact us today to learn more.