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Homeowners in hurricane-prone areas should stay on top of weather reports and their insurance policies.

“It’s important to keep in mind that even one major hurricane can do catastrophic damage and it’s important to be prepared just in case one strikes,” says Bonnie Schneider, national television meteorologist and author of “Extreme Weather.”

Here are tips from insurance and weather experts on surviving a hurricane season.

Key Takeaways

  • Homeowners in hurricane-prone areas should keep up with weather reports and understand the coverage offered by their insurance policy.
  • Flood insurance is essential even if you don’t live along the coastline, as hurricanes can bring heavy rain and flooding even hundreds of miles inland and homeowners insurance doesn’t cover floods.
  • Prepare your home well ahead of time for a hurricane; don’t wait until it’s on the way to get emergency supplies together.

Hurricane preparation tips for homeowners

If you live in a hurricane-prone part of the country, it’s important to be prepared well ahead of time. Waiting until a hurricane is approaching will likely lead to long lines and empty shelves at stores.

The same applies to your insurance. Flood insurance has a 30-day waiting period, and many insurance companies put a moratorium on writing new coverage in the days leading up to a hurricane making landfall.

The tips below will help you ensure you and your coverage are ready for hurricane season.

Have emergency supplies stocked year-round

If you have a flashlight, water, a first aid kit and batteries stashed away for emergencies, and think you’re ready for the next disaster, you’re not alone. You’re also not fully prepared. provides a full list of the items you should have in your basic emergency preparedness kit, including:

  • Water and non-perishable food
  • A radio
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlights
  • A whistle to signal for help
  • Dust masks
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape
  • Moist towelettes and garbage bags
  • A manual can opener
  • Maps
  • A cell phone with backup battery and a charger

Additional items include:

  • Prescription and non-prescription medications
  • Soap, hand sanitizer and disinfectant
  • Infant supplies
  • Blankets
  • Cash or traveler’s checks
  • Feminine supplies
  • Matches

Make sure you’ve gathered this in a place that will be easily accessible when a hurricane hits.

Prepare for flooding

Flood insurance is increasingly important coverage, even if you don’t live along a coastline.

However, flood insurance isn’t usually part of a homeowners policy. So, you need a separate flood insurance policy. 

Jeffrey O’Connor, vice president at Alex N. Sill Adjustment Company. and president of the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (NAPIA), says Stormstorm Sandy produced its highest winds in Cleveland — not along the east coast. 

“It seems like no place is safe recently,” says O’Connor.  “We all know the coastal areas of the south and southeast are most susceptible to hurricane damage of flooding and wind, but it is not uncommon to have hurricane-force winds extending hundreds of miles inland.” 

“Remember that a hurricane often brings with it large amounts of rain even hundreds of miles away from the coastal area it originally strikes. Rivers, streams, and creeks can overflow, causing tremendous damage,” he adds. 

Homeowners should also know that there’s a difference between wind and water damage if the water comes as a flood, says Ray Altieri Jr., president at Tampa-based Altieri Transco American Claims. 

“Carriers have been very reluctant to mesh the two types of damage together on claim payments, so property owners must insure the perils of wind and flood separately and adequately,” says Altieri.

Know what your current home insurance policy covers

Don’t assume your homeowners insurance policy will cover hurricane damage.  

Christie Alderman, vice president of product innovation and development at Chubb Insurance, says some insurers offer “named-peril” policies, meaning they cover only the perils listed in the policy, such as fire and theft. They might not encompass all weather events.

However, standard home insurance policies are what is known as all-risk, open peril or all perils. They cover anything that is not excluded.

“However, some coverage, such as coverage for flood, must be purchased separately,” says Alderman. Standard home insurance excludes floods.

Obtain additional insurance coverage if you need it

Once you figure out what your current policy covers, you’ll have a better understanding of what it doesn’t cover. This is the first step in deciding whether you need hurricane insurance for storm damage that won’t be covered by your homeowners policy.

“I recommend that homeowners discuss their coverage with their agents once a year, even if nothing has changed. The renewal period is the best time to do that because the topic is fresh on everyone’s mind. Policyholders should review their renewal package and be sure to question their agent about any changes that are proposed for the new year of coverage, so they have a general understanding of matters. Homeowners also need to be aware that any changes to the property should be reported to their agent to be sure coverage is not altered in any way by a property’s physical or occupancy change,” says Altieri.

Put money aside for insurance deductibles

Weather-related insurance claims typically require that you pay your deductible toward the damage. Alderman says you should know how much that deductible will be and put that money aside in savings just in case you need to file a claim.

She also notes that your deductible for hurricane, hail or wind could differ from your standard homeowners deductible. For example, your policy might require a 2% deductible for windstorms but a flat $1,000 deductible for other perils. Always check your policy’s current declarations page if your insurer changed your deductible at renewal time.

Alderman also suggests checking with your agent to see if the insurance company provides loss-prevention services like home appraisers who can provide guidance on protecting a home from a wind event.

Prepare your home for severe weather

Making some repairs in advance may help your home withstand storms better than if your home is already in need of maintenance. Alderman suggests that homeowners trim their trees and consider removal or review by an arborist if there are any trees within falling distance of the home. Other tips include checking for loose shingles, cleaning gutters, and downspouts, and installing storm shutters and/or impact glass on all openings around the home.

“If your home does not meet current construction industry standards, some simple modifications can help to reduce property loss in the event of a hurricane,” says Alderman.

Be ready to evacuate

Whether by choice or by government order, sometimes extreme weather situations require residents to evacuate their homes. A few preparations in advance can make this process a lot easier for everyone.

Alderman suggests that you make arrangements for your automobile, boat, pets, and valuables before the storm hits.

“Have an evacuation plan and knowledge of local evacuation routes and shelters. Prepare medicines, important information, and phone numbers, including your insurance information, and fill your car with gas,” says Alderman.

Know others’ plans

You may be prepared, but what about others? Does your workplace have a disaster plan? Does your child’s school have a plan? Will they “shelter in place”? Disasters can strike when your family members are not with you. Find out what plans are in place for other locations.

Track the weather

During storms, it’s critical to tune in to your local radio, television station or NOAA weather channel to keep track of the hurricane’s progress and location. John Marini, chief operating officer and vice president at Utica-based Adjusters International, also suggests purchasing NOAA weather radios. 

“These individual warning devices can really come in handy during the night when most people are sleeping and have their televisions off,” says Marini.

Make a home inventory before a storm strikes

Taking pictures and videos of every room in your house will help you create a record of your belongings if your home is destroyed in a hurricane.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) app lets homeowners photograph and capture images, descriptions, bar codes and serial numbers, and then stores them electronically for safekeeping. If you’d rather have a hard copy, the NAIC has a printable inventory checklist you can fill out.

“It’s important to have evidence of what your house and possessions looked like before the storm. You will also need to take photographs or video of the damage as soon as you can after the hurricane strikes and to continue to take photographs or video if the loss conditions worsen. Keeping detailed records both before and after the hurricane is critical when filing an insurance claim,” says O’Connor.

More than half of people surveyed by said they don’t have a complete inventory of everything in their house. Of those that do keep an inventory, most keep a paper copy, a digital copy was the second most popular choice, and some said they stored the information in their head.

Making a home inventory is an important part of financial planning: You won’t make a home insurance claim for items you don’t remember you had.

What to do after a storm

Make sure that you’re consulting experts once it’s time to make repairs to help determine whether the hurricane damage was caused by wind or water. A public insurance adjuster can help you organize, submit, and track your claim.

“That can be a very gray area but a certified engineer or a reputable public adjusting company can help,” says Damon Faunce, owner of Philadelphia-based Faunce & Associates. To find a reputable engineer or public insurance adjuster, Faunce suggests visiting the National Society of Professional Engineers and the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters.

Homeowners in hurricane-prone areas must prioritize their safety and financial security by taking necessary steps. Preparedness, including maintaining emergency supplies, securing flood insurance, and assessing the coverage of their existing policies, is vital. Additional insurance coverage may be necessary, and homeowners should set aside funds for deductibles. Keeping an accurate home inventory and seeking professional assistance during the claims process will help with the recovery after a storm.

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Shivani Gite
Contributing Writer


Shivani Gite is a personal finance and insurance writer with a degree in journalism and mass communication. She is passionate about making insurance topics easy to understand for people and helping them make better financial decisions.