We have all heard the adage, April showers bring May flowers. Those of us living along the coast know what May flowers bring…Hurricane Season. And, just like every flower is different, so is every hurricane season. Some are active, some are mild, and some are dangerous. It is crucial to plan and prepare. Ensuring you have adequate homeowner's coverage and flood insurance are critical to disaster preparedness. This article shares advice, practical tips, and essential strategies to ensure you and your loved ones are well-prepared for hurricane season.
Understanding the Risks
Before diving into preparations, it is critical to understand the risks surrounding hurricanes and the flooding they can bring. By comprehending potential dangers, taking the necessary steps to safeguard your home and prioritize your safety is easier.
The Power of Hurricanes
Hurricanes are incredibly powerful and destructive storms that can cause extensive damage to property and infrastructure, often over multiple continuous days. They are characterized by strong winds, with sustained winds of at least 74 miles per hour, heavy rainfall, storm surges, and even the potential for tornadoes. With many of our Members living close to the Gulf Coast, we have experienced several hurricanes, but that does not make them any less powerful.
Insuring Your Home
Ensuring you have the right coverage for a hurricane is very important in case you have to file insurance claims for damage. Understanding your coverage limits will help protect your personal property during a natural disaster.
An insurance deductible is an amount you pay before the insurance company pays its share of an insured loss. If your home or property is considered a total loss, the insured value can be paid at the actual cash value or its replacement cost. Proper coverage, especially in high-risk areas, is important to ensure your home and belongings are replaced if damaged during a hurricane.
Homeowners insurance usually has a separate deductible for hurricanes and windstorms versus other insured perils. Be sure to check your policy to confirm your hurricane deductible. A homeowner must pay the deductible before the insurer covers damage or destruction caused by a hurricane. However, flood damage is not covered by this insurance. You must purchase separate flood insurance to have this protection.
Homeowners Insurance Policy
A standard homeowners insurance policy does not include flood insurance. In addition to your home insurance policy, you must have a separate flood insurance policy in place.
Homeowners insurance covers the interior and exterior of a home and your personal belongings from specifically covered perils. Homeowners insurance also provides personal liability protection for damages to others.
Renters Insurance Policy
A standard renters insurance policy does not come with flood insurance either. As a tenant, you must buy flood insurance to protect your belongings. Your landlord is not responsible for damage to your property; they are only responsible for the building. Renters can (and should) purchase flood insurance to protect their contents. Purchasing flood insurance for your contents allows peace of mind knowing you can replace your furnishings, clothing, and personal items destroyed in a flood.
Types of Hurricane Damage
Wind-Driven Water Damage: Water damage can permanently impair the structure of your home and, if not treated, can cause mold, which may make you and your family sick.
Flood Damage: Flood damage, or rising water, can result in structural damage such as unstable floors, roofs, or foundation fissures and can also cause frayed electrical wires in your home. Although you may not live in a flood-prone area, your home can withstand considerable damage with only an inch of flood water. Purchasing flood insurance is the best way to protect your home, business, and family’s financial security.
There are many misunderstandings about flood insurance. Flood damage is usually excluded from homeowner's and renter's policies. To be protected from rising water (flood), you must purchase a separate flood insurance policy. You can purchase flood insurance from your home insurance agent, which can be surprisingly affordable.
Wind Damage: Wind damage can destroy your home's roof by tearing off shingles, damaging chimneys, and creating leaks. High winds could also cause trees to fall on your home. Hurricanes and tornadoes are examples of wind damage. This coverage is usually provided on a homeowners policy, but sometimes a separate wind policy must be purchased.
Get Insurance Coverage from TDECU
Do not wait until the last minute! Unless you purchase a new property, flood insurance requires a 30-day waiting period before the coverage goes into effect. If you want coverage, you can not wait until a storm is brewing in the gulf.
TDECU will guide you through available insurance coverage to help secure your home. We are here to help you understand what is and is not covered on your insurance policy and help you get the coverage you need to ensure your and your family's safety.
Here Are Some Additional Tips to Keep in Mind for This Season
- Stay informed by listening to your local news channels for important updates. You can also download the FEMA app to receive real-time alerts from the National Weather Service. Be aware of the Emergency Alert System in your area.
- Have a plan ready in the event evacuation is necessary. Be sure to turn off all utilities and follow community disaster preparedness plans. Visit Ready.gov for more information.
- Secure the exterior of your home by trimming large trees and shrubs. Bring outside patio furniture, potted plants, and toys inside.
- Protect windows and doors with appropriate shutters or nail pieces of plywood to window frames.
- Make sure you have your belongings documented by taking pictures and videos of them.
- Move cars to higher ground. Avoid parking under trees, power lines, and low-lying areas.
- Fill your car’s gas tank, make sure your cell phones are charged, purchase backup charging devices to power your electronics, test your generator, and have plenty of fuel ready in case of power outages.
- Make sure your insurance policies and personal documents are up to date. Make copies and keep them in a secure password-protected digital space, if possible.
- Prepare an emergency kit with flashlights, portable radio, extra batteries, non-perishable food, bottled water, cash, blankets, clothing, and toiletries.
- Have enough supplies for your household, including medication, disinfectant supplies, masks, and pet supplies.
- Identify a shelter room within your home. This area should be on the first floor in the central part of the house with no windows.
- Never drive into water - Turn around. Don't drown.
Create an Emergency Plan
An emergency plan is one of the most critical aspects of hurricane preparedness. Having a well-thought-out strategy in place can minimize the impact of a hurricane and help keep your family safe.
Establishing reliable communication channels before the hurricane strikes can help prevent miscommunication or a potential service outage. This includes having a designated meeting point for family members, an emergency contact list, and alternative methods of communication, such as a satellite phone.
You can familiarize yourself with evacuation routes in your area and identify the nearest shelters. Some shelters may have guidelines or restrictions, so it's best to know the situation beforehand so you can plan accordingly. Prepare an evacuation kit with food, water, medication, and important documents in watertight containers.
Taking measures to secure your home can significantly reduce the risk of damage during a hurricane. If in a high-risk geographical location, installing storm shutters may be beneficial. Using plywood to reinforce windows or doors can act as a temporary alternative. Make sure to regularly clear your gutters and drains to prevent water from pooling around your property, and make sure to trim trees and secure outdoor furniture to minimize potential hazards.
In conclusion, being prepared for hurricane season and flooding is essential for the well-being of you and your loved ones. By understanding the risks, creating an emergency plan, acquiring essential supplies, and securing proper insurance coverage promptly, you can mitigate the impact of hurricanes. Please remember to keep an eye on weather updates and follow the guidance of local authorities.
At TDECU, your safety and security is our top priority. Even though we cannot predict if this hurricane season will impact us, we are ready to continue serving you throughout these types of natural disasters by providing you access to your TDECU accounts through free digital banking, at TDECU and surcharge-FREE Allpoint® ATMs, or by using your TDECU VISA® debit card or Mastercard® credit card.