The 2011 hurricane season, which ends Nov. 30, has produced 18 named Atlantic storms, tying 1969 as the sixth-busiest Atlantic hurricane season since officials began keeping records in 1851, according to the Property Casualty Insurance Association of America (PCI).
Six storms were hurricanes, including Irene, the second hurricane to hit New Jersey in the last 108 years. Irene killed 40 people and caused $4 billion in damages. It combined with Tropical Storm Lee to create one of the worst flood disasters in the Northeast.
In the last 16 years, there have been 12 hurricane seasons of above-normal activity. PCI encourages coastal area residents to use the winter and early spring to prepare for next hurricane season, which begins June 1.
"It is a question of when, not whether, the U.S. Atlantic or Gulf coasts will face a major landfall," Christopher Hackett, PCI's director of personal lines policy, said in a media statement. "Coastal residents should use the next few months to prepare for a major hurricane, and there are a number of things they can do to be ready."
Insurance companies and disaster preparedness officials recommend residents create a family disaster plan, maintain an emergency supply kit and stay informed about approaching storms. This is also a good time to review car and home insurance policies and purchase flood insurance. Standard home insurance does not cover damages from flooding
PCI also urges elected officials in coastal regions to strengthen building codes and address any shortcomings in their residual insurance markets to promote risk-based pricing and healthy competition. Residual markets are insurance plans that provide coverage for people who can't find insurance in the regular market.