Preparing Before a Hurricane

Introduction

This section of the HunkerDown.Guide is all about Practical, Affordable, and Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Steps you might decide to take to protect your family, pets, and home from tropical storms and hurricanes. This material is focused on the strategic type of projects and planning that are best executed long before a storm is bearing down on you.

If you have any questions, feel free to send them in to us using the contact form.

Jamie Robe, Your Hunker Down Guide

Create a Practical Plan

You may be reading this guide because you don’t yet have a Hurricane Plan. Don’t feel badly, as you are not alone. A recent survey showed that only 20% of people have formulated such a plan.

Your plan does not need to be a lengthy written document. You do need to think thru some basic points, and take systematic actions. The main focus areas are:

  • Is my home a safe location to stay during a hurricane of strength X? Could it flood from rains or surge? Is the roof and construction adequate to resit the expected winds?
  • If I can’t stay where I live, where will I go, when should I leave, how will I get there, and what should I bring to the shelter?
  • Do I have enough fresh water and food to last until stores open or relief supplies become available?
  • Do I have a way to store, prepare, and cook food?
  • If the power goes out for a long time (hours to days to weeks), do I have a way to operate lights and communications?
  • Do I have enough medical and personal hygiene supplies to get thru the post storm period?
  • Should I invest in hurricane shutters, battery backup system, electric generator to further prepare?
  • How do I handle special situations, like a family member with special medical needs, small children, and/or pets?
  • What documents and records do I need to keep?
  • If I have damage, how will I document it, report a claim to my insurance company, mitigate the situation before more damage happens?
  • What is my Plan B in case my situation changes rapidly, due to changes in the storm forecast, unexpected official orders, or extreme damage or dangers?

Your Hurricane Check List

TIP: Many websites advise a 3 day supply of food and water. That should be the absolute minimum that you should always keep on hand for any emergency. When a hurricane is threatening, you should stock up on a more realistic 7 days supply of food and water.

Safe Drinking Water

Fresh, clean drinking water is something we often take for granted in the United States. A major hurricane can “break” your normal supply of water in several ways.

  • A major power outage can shutdown your city’s purification or pumping systems.
  • Flooding can contaminate the supply pipes, making the water unsafe for consumption.
  • If your home has well water, even a local power outage can shut that down.
  • If you rely on bottled water, the supply chain of distributors, delivery trucks, and stores could be shutdown for an indefinite period of time, depending on the extent of damage.

Relief agencies and organizations will be working to get bottled water into a devastated area, but as we have seen in recent hurricane disasters, that can often take days or weeks. It is critically important that you have fresh water on-hand for an extended period of time.

bottled water can serve as a backup supply, but keep track of expiration
  • Water supply – 1 to 2 gallons per person per day
    • Buy distilled water bottles at a discount or dollar store – One gallon distilled bottles are often under $1 each.
    • Bottle of water can expire. What really happens is the plastic container starts to break down chemically over time. The water might be drinkable but could have traces of chemicals and/or taste differently.
    • Manufacturers should have an expiration date on the label
    • The bottled water industry rule of thumb is that it lasts 1 to 2 years
    • For water you intend to store for long periods, write the date you bought it on each bottle or carton with a Sharpie pen
    • TIP – Buy before the season, keep it stored in a cool dark closet, and then use it for picnics or camping after the storm season is over.
    • I find I use the leftover bottled water to refill my fish tank
    • Before a hurricane actually strikes, take the time to fill up pots and pans, flexible water storage bags, and other clean containers with lids ( or cover with plastic wrap)
    • You can never have too much fresh water – you will need it to wash your hands, brush teeth, and cook food.
  • Water Purification as Alternative
    • Although it isn’t necessarily effective with chemical contaminates, a hand held water purification device could be a life saver for a group in dire conditions. Let’s say the worst case scenario happens and such a large area is destroyed that help doesn’t reach you for longer than 3 to 7 days? A passive, hand held filtering bottle could be used to scoop up rain water from ditches, rivers, ponds, and even puddles.
    • They all have filters with holes smaller than the smallest virus, so bacteria and other germs can’t pass from the dirty side to the clean side.
    • These are pricey items ($25 – $50) that hopefully you never have to use in an emergency.
    • They could be dual use items, good for camping and hiking trips the rest of the year. Here is the type of filter bottle I have had experience with on hiking trips.
    • TIP: I remember one trip where there was a well at a remote primitive site with very “rusty” looking, but drinkable water. The filter container we used produced clear looking water.

Food, and a way to prepare and serve it

If your community is badly damaged by a tropical storm or hurricane, the entire supply chain you depend on for food could be knocked out for an extended period of time.

  • Stores and restaurants could be damaged or destroyed
  • Grocery stores, restaurants, and bakeries need electricity for lights, refrigeration, cooking, etc
  • Distribution warehouses and delivery trucks may be out of action
  • Many of the people who work in food related businesses may be dealing with major damage to their homes and will not be able to report to work

Until the situation improves and/or relief supplies are brought in, you could be on your own for days or longer. One part of the problem is having non-perishable food on hand. The second part is planning how you are going to prepare it. Does it require cooking or heating? How do you deal with not being able to wash plates, pans, and utensils?

  • Food – non-perishable, easy-to-prepare, with no or minimal cooking
    • Energy bars are a simple, but only a very short term solution
    • Canned food that you would normally eat could be purchased and kept on-hand. Then rotate out the oldest and use them for normal meals. Always replace those as they are consumed, so you keep a minimum of 3 days supply of food on-hand. Augment right before a storm to at least a full week’s supply.
    • Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) are military style, sealed food packets designed for long-term storage. Some come with self-heating pouches used to heat them up without a stove. These are an investment but can last years as an emergency food source. There are even vegetarian and other specialized MREs available.
    • Dehydrated camping foods are similar to MREs and are readily available where ever camping supplies are sold. These can be re-hydrated and prepared easily, usually by just adding hot water. Many are quite tasty.
  • Food Preparation / Cooking
    • Non-electric can opener (you don’t want to find yourself trying to hack open a can with a hammer or hatchet)
    • Cooking equipment, such a propane camping stove and fuel. A charcoal grill, with sufficient fuel and starter fluid can also help.
    • Waterproof matches and/or lighters
    • Plates and utensils (you may not have clean water for washing, so disposable can be viable option)
    • Paper towels, plastic garbage bags
    • TIP: Garbage pickup may not exist in your neighborhood, so think of how and where you will be stockpiling your mountain of garbage

Gadgets + Tools You Will Need

  • One flashlight per person – preferably long running LED units
  • Cash – ATMs will run out of money and will not work if power is lost. Small bills if possible. Might be a cash economy.
  • NOAA / AM / FM Weather Radio – with battery-powered, hand crank, and solar, with cell phone charger built-in 
  • Spare batteries for all devices
  • A paper list of with important contact information, phone numbers, email addresses, physical addresses
  • Homeowners insurance, property deeds, bank account info, personal identification cards, medical insurance cards
  • First aid kit
  • Medications to last at least 7 days, extra glasses, hearing-aid batteries
  • Copies of prescriptions and important medical history 
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication
  • Moistened wipes
  • Bug spray
  • Sun screen
  • Baby formula and diapers
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Disinfectant – if water is out normal washing my not be possible
  • Pet identification and immunization records
  • Toys, books, cards and games
  • Cell phone with chargers, extra chargers and extra USB cables

If you are going to a shelter, consider these items as well:

  • Detailed maps of your evacuation route, including shelter or hotel locations. These paper maps and lists are backups, in case your phone’s GPS and internet are not available after a storm
  • At least one change of clothes wrapped in waterproof bag
  • Sturdy shoes – debris can be dangerous after a storm event
  • Pillows, Blankets and/or Sleeping Bags
  • Blowup air mattresses or folding cots
  • Camping style folding chairs
  • Battery powered fans
  • Ear plugs, sleep masks

Hardening Your Home

The Need for Hurricane Shutters

More and more homeowners living in hurricane prone areas are deciding to take extra precautions to protect their homes. One possibility is to apply hurricane shutters over all exterior doors and windows.   Hurricane shutters protect a residence from damage caused by strong winds and flying debris.  

Regions susceptible to tropical storms and hurricanes may have specific protection requirements in the building codes. Check with your county for the legal requirements and building codes for your region.  In a state like Florida, where hurricane damage is a yearly possibility, new homes are almost universally required to have storm protection, usually in the form of preinstalled attachments and metal shutters that are stored in a garage or storage room.

A homeowner with an older home can have shutters installed and/or ready for deployment, done either by a contractor or as a DIY project by the homeowner themselves. Either way, the cost depends on the type of shutters, the number of openings, and the type of home construction (block, wood).  

I have found that the following video, from the non-profit Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH), gives a great overview on what is involved putting up plywood shutters. Metal or plastic are similar.

Types of Hurricane Shutters

While you always see hundreds of people buying up plywood for hurricane shutters in the days preceding a storm,  it is much less costly and stressful to do this well before any storm threat.

DIY TIP – Use exterior grade plywood at least ⅝-inch thick. Measure and cut to allow at least a 4-inch overlap on each opening. Wear the proper safety gear, and use an electric drill or hammer drill to apply fasteners every 4 inches to secure panels.

There are also more hurricane protection options than just plywood screwed into the walls of a house. Some shutters are made from specially designed metal or plastic panels rated to withstand the high winds and impacts.  They also pile up compactly, making for easy storage. Two-storey houses should have no steel panels on the second floor.  

TIP – In our two story home, during the threat of a major hurricane, like Irma, I have metal shutters that I move upstairs, inside the house.  These can be screwed into the wall studs to and braced as needed with 2X4 wood. I know it is damaging to interior walls, but that can be easily patched and painted after the storm passes.  If unlucky enough to get hit by a CAT 3, 4 or 5 hurricane, those shutters could prevent 100+ MPH winds from breaching the home. You might lose some window glass, but an airborne tree limb won’t easily get through into the house.

Another option is the new hurricane fabrics that are attached over windows and are designed to deflect the force of impacts, much like a bullet-proof vest worn by police.  Some homeowners prefer the fabric option because it can be easily stored when not in use and is less cumbersome to handle than traditional shutters. Due to the lighter weight, they may also be safer to deploy on the second floor of a two story house than heavier shutters.  

Hurricane roller shutters or sliding doors are becoming a common sight in condo buildings and homes, especially where the owner may be gone for part of the year or otherwise can’t handle heavier shutter solutions.  These are often even electrically operated. Accordion shutters are similar and are attached to the sides of a window or balcony and must be pulled out and locked when a storm is near. If you live in a condo or have another type of  homeowners association, it is generally understood that shutters can’t be prohibited. https://www.floridacondohoalawblog.com/2018/12/10/board-cant-prohibit-hurricane-shutters/

Bahama Hurricane Shutters are attached to the top of your window and supported by a bar that extends from the window frame. In this way, they provide your windows, when not in use, with partial shade. When Bahama shutters are locked open in the up position, it gives the feeling of the tropics. 

Impact Windows

Many coastal building codes require windows to be impact-resistant or protected by a shutter if the structure is located near the coast where the wind speed could be 100 mph or greater. For example, in Florida, the High-Velocity Hurricane Zone (HVHZ) section of the code states that every exterior opening must be provided with protection by shutters or impact-resistant windows against wind-borne debris caused by hurricanes. 

So called hurricane windows or impact windows have specially designed, heavy duty frames and glass/plastic composite panels to provide some level of impact resistance during high winds.  These help protect your family from flying glass splinters.  

Be very careful about impact resistant films.  While these can increase the impact resistance of conventional glass panes, they typically do not make an older window truly hurricane proof.  There have been some major scams in parts of the country where sales people have talked fearful homeowners into buying a product that does not perform as well as a shutter.  Many people have sustained damage due to this scam. True impact windows are very expensive, but the frame and attachments to the walls is carefully designed to hold the special panes, even under very high winds.  A DIY film could help minimize splinters, but could not stop a tree limb flying at 100 MPH. Something like metal hurricane shutters over top of impact windows provide maximum protection during a storm. 

Doors

If you have vulnerable sliding glass or french doors you should probably cover those with shutters.  Exterior metal entrance doors should also be braced form within, whenever possible. You must always think about the battering ram force of a tree limb or 2X4 flying around in a major storm and slamming into your door at speeds of 75 MPH and up. Something like adding a 2X4 bracing inside an inner swinging front door could make a major difference.  You can also check the length of the screws, strength and construction of the hinges, and so on. Basically, anything done to help resist high winds and impacts will also help to protect your entrances from burglars as well.

Garage Doors

Garage doors are one of the weak points of any home.  Eighty percent of hurricane damage in residential areas begins with the ingress of wind through garage doors. Newer doors have special bracing to make them more wind resistant.  However, if a rolling or swinging garage door were to become distorted by winds or impacts, it could open the garage cavity of the home to terrible wind pressures.  This has caused many homes to have heavy or catastrophic structural and roof damage.

One solution is to span the entire garage opening with metal shutters. EXAMPLE

Maintenance

There may be ongoing maintenance required for some types of shutters.   The most important thing for most types is their proper storage. Plywood panels are wood, and eventually they can warp, crack, and even rot.  Metal shutters are pretty stable, though they can rust if not stored properly. Plastics can deteriorate, especially if stored in sunlight. Fabrics will need to be checked for damage or deterioration, especially at the attachment grommets or other stress points.  Make sure that all of these are stored in dry locations where they can lay flat or upright. Be especially careful to see if any contact points a retaining moisture or insects. A periodic inspection is important.

There are a number of elements that can go wrong with the rolling type hurricane closure, including the wheels, cranks, and/or electric motors on roller shutters or sliding doors.   These should be periodically tested to make sure that they will operate when needed.

Cost Savings

After you do any major work on your home’s roof or decide to purchase a shutter solution, check with your insurance company about potential cost savings.  We had our 20 year old roof replaced, and a low cost wind inspection saved us over 25% on our yearly homeowners insurance. The roofers had essentially upgraded the wind resistance of our roof!

Human Safety

One thing to keep in mind when shuttering a building, especially when it involves essentially locking yourself and your family inside, is emergency escape. This could be in case of unexpected rising waters, but it is more likely involving the risk of fire. Anywhere people sleep or congregate should have several paths out. In flood situations, I have also read about people keeping axes in attics in case they need to retreat to higher ground and need to chop a way out onto the roof for rescue.

Moving, lifting, and installing any type of shutter system can involve a certain level of risk. It is common to read news articles about people having heart attacks or falling from ladders. Handling tools can be dangerous as well. You definitely do not want to be on a ladder or handling sheets of plywood or metal after the winds pick up. Exercise extreme caution. Some of the deaths and injuries happen to people in places that never actually get hit by hurricane they are preparing for.

Hurricane shutters are designed to improve the safety of your home during these disasters, but no product can guarantee your safety. You should always carefully determine if evacuation is required or appropriate for your specific household.  Windows, roofs, and home are replaceable…lives are not.

Electric Power

Power outages are one of the most common side-effects of a hit by a tropical storm or hurricane. Even the weakest of tropical storms can pack strong gusts and lots of lightning, both of which can knock down power lines or cause transformers to blow.

You don’t realize how dependent we are on electricity until you have to live without it for several days. A week or more can really start to tear at the fabric of your life. Everything just becomes a hundred times more difficult, and keeping comfortable becomes very difficult.

Generators

There are two main types of generators: a portable generator and a standby generator. We will go more in depth on each type, then I will give details on the type of system I choose for my home.

Standby Generator

  • Standby generators are expensive, permanently installed systems designed to run all the power needed in a house for extended periods of time.
  • Standby generators run on natural gas, propane, or sometimes diesel, and start automatically in the event of a power failure.
  • An automatic transfer switch, installed next to the homes main power panel, constantly monitors utility power and transfers the electrical load to the generator, within seconds, if power is lost, protecting the home even if the home owner is away.
  • Standby generators come in a wide array of sizes, from 7KW to 20KW or more. They can supply both 120v (most household lights, refrigerator, and electronics use it) and 220v (stove, central air conditioner, water heater).
  • Standby generator systems usually perform automated self-tests, so they are always ready to immediately provide power.
  • Just like any vehicle engine, these systems require yearly maintenance, often under a service contract.
  • Standby generators are installed inside wind-proof metal enclosures, somewhere away from the home, and must have a sizable fuel line or tank (e.g. 200 pound tank or larger for propane).
  • These large systems require professional installation, as well as permits.
  • A typical system might cost around $15,000 or more, installed.
  • These systems could have a lifespan of decades, so they are major investments. I have read that these do add value to your home. It all depends on your situation, including how often the power might fail in your community.

Portable Generators

  • Portable generators are the more conventional units most people have probably seen on used by workmen or at tailgate parties.
  • They can be carried by one or two people, and they often have wheels.
  • Most portable generators run on gasoline or propane, with some models able to run on both (dual fuel).
  • For the sake of safety from carbon monoxide fumes, as well as the noise, these units are brought out of storage and operated outside the home, at least 25 feet away from doors or windows.
  • Extension cords are often used to run the 120 volt electricity from the unit to the appliance or lights inside the home. As such, these cords must be rated for the electrical power and distance required.
  • Usually, a portable generator is manually started and stopped, much like starting a lawnmower. A manually started unit means the homeowner must be home during a power outage.
  • Instead of using extension cords, a special generator cord can be used to connect to a transfer switch installed next to the homes main power panel.
  • This transfer switch allows the homeowner switch a half dozen or more home circuits from line power to generator power, making switching those appliances and lights a simple flip of a few switches.
  • While portable generators are usually manually started, some units can be started automatically by an automatic transfer switch. This can make a portable generator, assuming it is stored in an outbuilding or other safe location, more equivalent to a standby generator.
  • Portable generators come in a wide array of sizes, from tiny 900W tailgator units to 10KW units. The average size is 3000W to 5000W. Some units can only supply 120v (most household lights, refrigerator, and electronics use it), while other larger units can supply 120v and 220v (stove, central air conditioner, water heater).
  • One important consideration is the type and amount of fuel you will need to have on-hand for extended operations.
  • The larger the unit, the more fuel will be needed to be stored.
  • Propane is a cleaner burning fuel than gasoline, in that the engine does not have the same amount of buildup as it would if using gasoline.
  • Propane is readily available at stores such as Walmart, Lowes, etc. The 20 pound propane cylinder is common, as it is used in many cooking grills.
  • Propane cylinders are sealed and present little fire risk, if carefully handled and stored.
  • Gasoline is obviously found everywhere, but it must be carefully stored in approved containers only, because it can create an explosion risk if fumes build up in enclosed rooms.
  • Gasoline can also absorb moisture, so it needs to be rotated to use in a vehicle and new fuel purchased on a periodic schedule.
  • Gasoline is used in most cars, so it might be practical to siphon fuel in an emergency from your vehicle’s fuel tank to use in the generator.
  • Dual fuel generators have an advantage in they can use can be powered by two different fuel types, which in an emergency might be useful.
  • Portable generators can run anywhere from $120 for smallest units to $800 for larger sized systems. Fuel storage is an additional cost, with 20 pound propane costing about $40 ($15 for fill up or exchange).

Practical tips

  • If you have a generator, check the oil level, and refill as needed, then test start the generator
  • Buy extra oil for a generator
  • Buy extra gasoline and store it in safe containers approved for storing fuel
  • Use a propane tank gauge that weighs a tank to tell how much full is inside
  • Take propane tanks to be refilled or exchange empty ones for full tanks at big box stores
  • Store propane tanks outside under a deck or other secure location, possibly using a steel cable and lock to secure them
  • Find all your heavy duty extension cords and label the length
  • Determine where in your yard or driveway you will move your generator after a storm, in order to position it 20 to 25 feet from any open windows or doors
  • Pull the generator to a safe location, far outside your home, run your extension cord to your appliance or lights, and do a test run in advance of the storm
  • Make sure you have a multi-outlet adapter for your extension cord if you plan on running more than one item
  • If you have a generator, consider buying and installing a house transfer switch, as it allows you to power 4, 6, or more house circuits from the generator using a special generator cable

Solar Power

Battery Backup

Preparing Your Yard and Trees

  1. Before a storm hits, review your property and buildings for places where water might get trapped or impeded during heavy rains,and clean out the gutters, downspouts, drainlines, gullies and other paths for the water to flow away from your house
  2. Well in advance of a storm, either DIY or hire a professional to trim dead tree limbs, thin out foliage, and evaluate any tree or limb that hangs over your home or is likely to break off during high winds
  3. Long before a storm threat, call the power utility to report tree limbs or foliage that are against power lines or could cause a problem during a hurricane, so that their crew can come out and trim anything that might knock out wires

Pet Plan

  • If you have pets and must evacuate, look for shelters that take dogs and cats
  • If you have pets and must evacuate, contact your veterinarian to see if they know who can board pets during a storm
  • Buy extra pet food, with enough to last a minimum of 3 days
  • Stock up on your pet’s prescriptions, including calming drugs for dogs afraid of storms
  • Buy lots of cat litter
  • Make provisions to power air pumps and other vital aquarium or aquaponics systems

Your Vehicle

If you own your own car, SUV, or truck, you will need to take a series of precautions, both to protect your vehicle and preserve your ability to use it. Even the weakest tropical storm can knock out power (pumps need electricity) or damage gas stations (those metal roofs that cover gas pumps are magnets for wind damage). A bigger hurricane event can seriously disrupt the fuel distribution system for weeks or longer.

  • Fill up your gas tank as soon as your area is inside the long-range cone of uncertainty. Never let it go less than ¾ of a tank in run-up to the storm
  • Many people become of storms much later in the game, and panic buying will make it diffiocult as supplies become stressed.
  • The closer a storm event becomes, stations will either run out of fuel or close as they prepare.
  • Stations can lose power and be unable to pump fuel

Preserving your evacuation capability

Having the ability to evacuate could save your life. If you know you live in an evacuation zone or area prone to flooding events, then you should take time to make sure your vehicle runs well, is it tip-top shape, and has fuel. Trying to buy tires might not be feasible in the panicky period a few days before a storm hits.

Even if you intend to stay in your home during a hurricane, keeping your vehicle nearby and in a condition to rapidly leave could save your life if an unexpected situation occurs. What if your area unexpectedly begins to flood? What if you or a family member has a medical emergency. Driving during a hurricane is not a recommended or safe activity, but when an extreme survival event occurs, it may be your only option for getting to safety.

  • Can you store your car in a secure garage or parking facility?
  • Keep a flashlight in your car’s glove compartment
  • Check your car’s tire pressure and condition, including your spare tire, to avoid getting flat during evacuation or after the storm passes
  • Check and clean your car or SUV’s 12 volt battery terminals, clamps, and cables, and verify that your car battery is not worn out
  • Make sure you have keys super handy. Think of how you would find them in case the power is out and/or you have major damage to your roof/windows/walls.

Hurricane Insurance?

Financial Risk

There is not one specific type of insurance that covers hurricanes per-se.  Most homeowners are familiar with homeowner’s insurance, but that may not be enough to fully protect you financially in case of some hurricane damage.  The amount of coverage, the type of coverage, deductibles, and other factors are very specific to each State and situation.

Unlike when you own and drive a car, you can own a home legally without keeping homeowner insurance on it. However, if you finance your home with a mortgage, your lender will most likely require home insurance to protect your home from any damage caused by unforeseen circumstances, such as fires or natural disasters. This is so they do not lose financially as well.

Flood Coverage

No homeowner insurance policy covers floods, including water from a storm surge.  If your home is in a flood area, including a hurricane evacuation zone, you may need to take out a flood insurance. Federal flood insurance is sold by insurance agents through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).  In certain cases, homeowners must take out a flood insurance from their mortgage lender when their home is in a flood area. For many homeowners, a policy from a private insurer could be cheaper than through the federal insurance program. 

Wind Coverage

Each state is different on its insurance laws and requirements.  Standard homeowners insurance policy may limit coverage. Check with your state. For example, because of the frequency of hurricanes, Florida requires insurance companies to offer windstorm protection with homeowner contracts. In some states, this would have to be added as additional coverage. Homeowners most exposed to high winds should consult their state insurance agent for additional coverage.

Hurricane Deductibles

At Least 19 states have special hurricane deductibles. It is not a set amount, like you see for other types of insurance claims (e.g. a $500 flat fee you must pay before the insurer pays anything). Instead, a hurricane deductible is based on a percentage that depends on the property’s risk for damage. Percentages often range from 2 to 5 percent of your home’s insured value. In higher risk areas, like Florida, it can reach double digits. 

For example, if your home is insured for $100,000 and your hurricane damage deductible is 3 percent, you would need to pay the first $3,000 in damages before the insurance company pays anything. These hurricane deductibles are triggered when the government issues a hurricane warning or similar alert.  Your policy’s declaration page will have the details.  

Because there is such a risk in Florida, it has an annual hurricane deductible. This helps you if you have the grave misfortune of getting hit by multiple storms in one season.

Some storm insurance provides extra protection for freestanding buildings such as garages and sheds.

Condos

People who live in Condos don’t own the building (or the land) they live in. As such, your condo or homeowners association (HOA) should carry a master policy to insure the building and pay for accidents that occur on outside property or in common areas. 

Check with your HOA about storm or hurricane damage, as it might not pay to repair the inside of your unit or cover your belongings.  You might be able to take out your own comprehensive condominium insurance to protect your interior walls, floors and ceilings, as well as your personal belongings from hurricane damage. 

Renters

Less than 40 percent of renters have renters insurance, compared to over 90 percent of homeowners who have homeowners insurance.   Renters insurance pays for damages ( as well as theft) to your personal belongings and furniture, and it can sometimes cover additional living expenses if you can’t live in your apartment because of a hurricane. It may only cost a few hundred dollars a year, depending on where you live. Unlike homeowner’s insurance, there is no hurricane deductible for renters insurance. 

Car Insurance and Floods

Comprehensive automobile insurance coverage, which is generally optional, should normally cover disasters like floods, falling trees, and so on.  Check your policy to see if you have comprehensive coverage and what your specific deductibles are.

Timing

You can’t wait until a storm is looming to buy insurance. Insurers do not allow homeowners to take out new or additional insurance if there is already a hurricane watch or warning under effect. This is something to consider as well, if you are planning on closing on a sale or purchase of a home.  

Home Inventory

You should create a home inventory before you choose your insurance, as it will help you purchased enough insurance coverage to replace your personal possessions. You can make a written inventory, but a photographic or video inventory can also be effective.

An up-to-date inventory can also speed the claims process, as well as help substantiate losses for income tax purposes. It can also be useful should you need to apply for government disaster aid. If you need to evacuate, be sure to bring your home inventory with you. Or if possible, upload it to a cloud drive or other secure website.

Unbiased Information

Each state should have an office that regulates the insurance industry. For instance, in Mississippi, the Commissioner of Insurance has a site specific to that state.

http://www.mid.ms.gov/consumers/homeowners-insurance.aspx

There is also an insurance industry association with information to improve public understanding of insurance – what it does and how it works. https://www.iii.org/article/hurricane-season-insurance-guide

Costs

As with almost any insurance, if you have already claimed homeowner’s insurance, you may pay a higher premium. 

Depending on your insurer and the state in which you live, you may have the option to pay more in premiums for a lower deductible.  As with any deductible, a deductible in the event of a hurricane or storm affects the final outcome of your insurance payment. If you have a high deductible in hurricanes or storms, you should set aside the extra money you may need to rebuild your home. 

Federal Help

The US Federal Government has programs to help people find and get financial help, including insurance.

TIP – Wind survey – savings!!!!!!!!!!

Finding Coverage

COMING SOON………..

Testing Your Preparations + Plan

More coming here in this section….

Starting Last Minute Preparations

  • It is never too late to make preparations.
  • If you are running out of time, the next section of the HunkerDown.Guide is for situations where a Storm is Threatening.