• Nicholas Welch

Prepare Your Home/Business for Hurricane Season with Resources from the IBHS

The Atlantic Hurricane Season begins soon, running from June 1, 2020 through Nov. 30, 2020.

Hurricanes have the potential to both upend the lives of those affected and cause massive amounts of damage. Last year the East coast of the United States contended with Dorian, a record setting Category 5 hurricane (pictured below). While our agency's native Georgia was largely spared from the destruction, the NOAA estimates Dorian caused well in excess of a billion dollars of damage to the US. With storms inevitable and wide reaching, it pays to be prepared.

Thankfully, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) offers valuable resources to help prepare. Below are some of their tips and links to more resources.

Hurricane Dorian on September 1, 2019; image from NOAA / Public domain

First and foremost: review your insurance policy(s). While most common hurricane damages are generally covered under the standard Homeowners policy (one important thing to note is that only flood insurance covers floods), it's not uncommon for policies to have split deductibles, meaning you may have a higher out-of-pocket expense for damage caused by the perils of Wind/Hail and/or Hurricanes. Additionally, if your Auto insurance doesn't have Comprehensive coverage added you'll likely be handling vehicle repairs on your own. Generally your Declarations page(s) will list this information.

The second insurance related point to consider: it's a very good idea to have a home inventory. The more well documented and specific the better, but at the bare minimum a quick video walk-through of your home where you describe objects (be sure to open and film storage areas too) before a storm can help with the claims process. For help with your home inventory check out the Insurance Information Institute's "How to create a home inventory"

If you're ever unsure about coverage: ask your agent. We're always happy to help and offer policy reviews. As independent agents we're here for our clients and will always do our best to find clients the policy that fits their needs best.

Further preparations to take to protect your property include having your roof inspected, repairing any defects, and fixing any leaks that may be made worse by a hurricane. Check the trees around your home and have an arborist trim overhanging branches, and remove dead, dying or diseased trees. Furthermore, consider protecting the openings on your home (which can often have the added benefit of a discount on Homeowners insurance), such as storm shutters for windows and using a wind rated garage door.

More information at "Seven Ways to Get Your Home Ready for Hurricane Season"

Last minute preparations include closing all the doors in the home to reduce pressure that might be put on the roof, securing outdoor items/furniture that may turn into flying debris, and simply staying up to date on weather information.

More information at "Low-Cost, Last-Minute Prep for an Approaching Hurricane"

Once the storm has passed there are a few things to consider when taking the next steps. Safety should always be the first priority. Caution needs to be exercised when entering a damaged building, downed power lines should be avoided and reported, and proper personal protective equipment should be used when cleaning up after a disaster.

Some final insurance related concerns involve the claims process. Try to report the claim quickly and, if it's safe to do so, take steps to prevent further, subsequent damage. Document the damage and save receipts since most standard Homeowners insurance policies contain coverage for emergency/additional living expenses as the result of a loss.

More information at "What to Do After A Hurricane"

Business owners can benefit from much of the above, but may have a few unique considerations like securing roof mounted equipment and safeguarding any packaged terminal air conditioners from rain intrusion. They should also consider preparing for severe weather with a response plan and checklist(s) via resources like "the IBHS's EZ-Prep program."

More information at "Prepare Your Business For Hurricanes"

Finally, make use of your insurance agent both before and after a disaster. Navigating the world of insurance can be confusing and potentially overwhelming, but you're not alone. A good agent should be able to help you evaluate your needs, find the best coverage options, and, when needed, help guide you through the claims process. That's why we're proud to be independent agents, so we can always put our clients first.

The IBHS has more information for hurricanes and other natural disasters at:

Chastain & Welch Agency LLC - Columbus Georgia

Note that all coverage summaries are generic, based on general industry standards, and informational only. They in no way create, extend, reduce, or otherwise modify coverage provided by any insurance policy. Please refer to your policy documents and any endorsements to determine coverage limits, conditions, exclusions and any other applicable provisions.

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