Batten Down the Hatches

The Atlantic hurricane season is right around the corner, beginning June 1 and ending November 30.  It is the time of the year when hurricanes, tropical storms and tropical depressions are likely to affect the east coast of the United States.  Widespread damage can occur during and long after a storm has passed. Now is the time to review your hurricane insurance policy, prepare your home for a storm and create an emergency plan for you and your loved ones.

Review Your Policy

Hurricane deductibles under standard homeowners policies are set at a percentage of the home’s insured value, usually ranging from 1 to 5 percent. The insurer will set a trigger for the deductible based on if the National Weather Service declares or names a storm. It is important that you review information regarding your hurricane deductible on the Declarations page of your homeowners policy before a storm hits.

Standard homeowners policies cover wind damage from hurricanes and tropical storms. However, flood damage is not covered. You will have to purchase a special policy through FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program or from a private insurer. It is important to note that it takes 30 or more days from when a flood policy is purchased to when coverage takes effect.

Prepare Your House

The best way to prevent major damage from a hurricane is to be prepared. Here are a few things you should do before a storm hits:

  • Take a personal inventory of your belongings
  • Bring in all outdoor furniture
  • Trim trees and landscaping that could cause damage
  • Clear gutters and downspouts, and make sure they drain away from your home
  • Reinforce your roof with hurricane straps
  • Secure doors, windows and garage doors.
  • Install storm shutters on doors and windows
  • Test your sump pump

Create Your Emergency Plan

When a hurricane hits, it is important to have an emergency plan in place.  Your emergency plan should be known and understood by the whole family.   The plan needs to include step-by-step directions for remaining in your home and evacuating. The National Weather Service is a great resource, providing guidelines for creating an emergency supply kit and developing an evacuation plan.

It is also very important to have your insurance policy information, your insurance agent’s contact information and other important information written down and easily accessible.  If the power goes out you may be unable to search for information online or charge your cell phone if you need to call for help or file a claim.

Although you cannot control the weather, you can take steps to prepare for and reduce the damaging effects of a hurricane. If you need help reviewing your homeowners policy or are looking to increase your protection, contact me at pdodge@rcmd.com or 410.512.4609.

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