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Homeowners Insurance

Is Your Home Hurricane-Ready? Top Tips to Weather the Storm

Don’t wait until the first named storm comes barreling your way to prepare your home for the 2024 hurricane season. Here are the most important things you can do right now to get ready.


Consider Buying a Generator


After a sizable storm, you might expect to lose power for hours to days or weeks. To make post-hurricane life more comfortable for you and your family, an emergency generator can provide the temporary power you need to keep your food cold, provide lighting at night, power needed medical equipment, and charge phones, radios, etc. If you’ve decided to buy a generator, don’t forget the carbon monoxide alarms (for inside your home) as well as extra gasoline (which should be secured safely outside), especially since you will likely be unable to purchase gas in the immediate aftermath of a hurricane. If you already own a generator, be sure to test it now to make sure it’s operational and in good condition.


Review Your Insurance Coverage


Is your home covered for all it’s worth? Contact your insurance agent to find out. Do you have all the appropriate limits for your personal belongings? Have you purchased any new, expensive items recently? Then you may wish to increase the limit on your personal property (Coverage C on your policy). Perhaps you’ve bought a small boat or want to make sure your golf cart or patio/pool screen are insured? Talk to your agent to find out if you can add coverage for those items now.


What about flood insurance? It doesn’t come with your home insurance policy, so you should seriously consider purchasing a separate flood insurance policy now to cover damage caused by rising water. Flood damage is notoriously pricey to recover from, so many homeowners consider flood insurance worth every penny. But if you’re going to buy it, do it sooner rather than later because there’s usually a 30-day waiting period before flood insurance goes into effect.


Hurricane deductibles are typically offered as a percentage of your dwelling coverage limit on your homeowners policy. If you need to make an insurance claim after a storm, it’s important to note your hurricane deductible will only need to be paid once per calendar year – not per hurricane. So, hypothetically, if your home is hit by two hurricanes in a single year, you would only be responsible for paying the hurricane deductible once.


Consider Door & Window Upgrades


By now, you should already have invested in hurricane shutters and/or hurricane-resistant windows & doors. Permanently installed shutters are the safest option and easiest to use. And don’t forget your garage door! It’s one of the weakest points of a home in a hurricane. Remember: it’s not so much the wind itself you should worry about – it’s what may be carried in the wind and then smashed into the doors or windows of your home at great speed. If all else is taken care of, take a moment to

evaluate the seal around your windows and doors now, as the season is beginning, and re-seal wherever necessary to avoid leaks when it rains.


Reinforce Your Roof


How will you know if you need to reinforce your roof? Great question! A wind mitigation inspection is a good starting place – it can help determine how well your roof will hold up under the intense pressure of a hurricane (of any category). For example, it may identify the need for hurricane clips/straps to connect the roof trusses to the walls of your home – or bracing the triangular ends of a gable roof may be recommended as a way to fortify your home against future storms.


As you’re performing hurricane prep around the house, it’s a good time to get up there and eyeball the situation. Look for loose or missing shingles, or other signs of wear and tear or other damage. Hire someone to fix the issues right away, unless it’s something small you can do yourself.


Clear the Gutters


Keeping your gutters free of debris is one of the easiest ways to avoid water damage to your home. The gutters along the edges of your roof are there to help usher rain off your roof, through downspouts, and away from your home. Just imagine: If a hurricane or significant rainfall occurs while your gutters are clogged with leaves and other debris, your gutters could fill to the brim and overflow with rainwater.


The weight of the collected water could bend or tear the gutter away from the roof. When the water overspills the gutter, it can weaken and rot the fascia the gutters are attached to. The overflow could pour down the walls of your home, and may drip behind your home’s siding, allowing water into the home. If the overflow pools at the base of your home, it could cause erosion, weakening your foundation and walls.


Keep Trees Trimmed


During hurricane season, it’s important to regularly thin dense foliage and remove dead branches from the trees near your home. The aim of tree trimming as hurricane prep is to thin the foliage enough to allow strong winds to blow through the trees and shrubs instead of getting caught in the plant and lifting it, partially or entirely, out of the ground. Tree trimming can also help ensure trees or tree branches don’t fall on top of your roof during a hurricane. Clear coconuts from palms so they don’t inadvertently become airborne missiles during a storm. 


Top Off Your Emergency Supplies


Do you have everything you’ll need if you’re stuck at home without power or fresh water for any length of time? Check your emergency supplies and make sure you have enough water, shelf-stable food, a manual can opener, medications, flashlights, batteries, and more. Put your most important documents in a waterproof zip-lock bag. Don’t forget supplies for pets, children, and anyone in the home with special needs. Do you have a weather radio to receive NOAA all-hazards alerts? Consider buying one while you’ve got time.


Inventory Your Belongings


Taking the time to go through your home and list all your personal property serves two very important purposes: (1) It can help determine if you have sufficient insurance coverage – i.e., whether your personal property and other limits are adequate enough to cover all your possessions; and (2) It can streamline the claims process if you have to make a claim after the storm, to help eliminate having to negotiate property values as you’re busy picking up the pieces after a storm.


At The Windward Insurance Agency, we’ve created a Home Inventory Checklist booklet to guide you through the process. Don’t forget to supplement the list with photos and video – and save it all electronically (in the cloud, preferably) for easy access when you need it.


Brush Off Your Hurricane Prep Plan


Do you have a plan for what you’ll do in an emergency? The Florida Division of Emergency Management website offers resources to help you create your own disaster preparedness plan as a part of your hurricane prep. A plan can take the last-minute guesswork out of decisions you may need to make in an emergency, if you take the time to include information such as:


  • 2 possible evacuation routes (even if you’re planning to stay put)
  • Nearby shelters (just in case)
  • Contact info for a friend or loved one outside the region who can serve as the point-of-contact for sharing information
  • Who’s responsible for what hurricane prep prior to and during a storm – e.g., who will shut off the electricity (at the breaker box) and main water shutoff valve (usually found outside, along the perimeter of your home) before evacuating


Prepare Your Home Now for the 2024 Hurricane Season


No one likes to imagine the worst – especially while skies are clear, the sun is shining, and all seems right with the world. But a little home prep ahead of hurricane season can mean the difference between being able to remain calm or not when you get word a storm may be heading your way.


For all your home insurance and property coverage needs, contact the insurance professionals at The Windward Insurance Agency to review your insurance options. They can help you find just what you’re looking for. Get a quote online now or call us at (866) 231-2433 for friendly, personal assistance.