While for the most part, there has been a reduction in loss of life during hurricane seasons, primarily due to better early warning systems, a huge spike in property losses has still occurred. Superstorm Sandy in 2012 reflected some of these staggering property losses, and was the second-costliest in the nation’s history, estimating $50 billion (Hurricane Katrina was the costliest, which in 2005 caused $108 billion in damage).
Homeowners should be warned that in general, it’s difficult to obtain hurricane insurance during hurricane season. All changes to your insurance coverage should be made well in advance of the next hurricane watch. Additional flood or wind coverage should be purchased if you are in a high risk area.
Regardless of whether you fall in to a high risk area, or not, many homeowners fail to realize the enormous strength and power of a hurricane. Subsequently, they don’t verify if their houses meet current building and wind codes. In fact, many houses that survived Hurricane Andrew were the ones built by Habitat for Humanity – built to code, with no corners cut.
Is the roof on your house strong enough to not be ripped off during a Category 5 storm (in which winds hit 155 miles max)? You wouldn’t want to wait until the storm hits, to find out.
If you are unsure about whether your home is adequately prepared for a hurricane this season, it’s important to call your broker and simply ask. An appraiser can review your documentation, explain the various types of window/wind mitigation products, and sometimes, at the request of a client, come out and inspect the house.
Alongside protecting your property, it’s also crucial to have a family emergency preparedness plan which includes action points such as stocking up on food and filling your gas tank.
Rick Albers is a technical risk consultant with Chubb’s Risk Consultant Group.