October 03, 2022 | Mark Snyder, Claims Subject Matter Expert, Hi Marley

Reduce Risk This Hurricane Season

Every year, natural disasters cause a tremendous amount of damage. Predictions for the 2022 hurricane season—running from June 1 through November 30— include 19 storms and nine hurricanes. Four of the hurricanes are expected to turn into major hurricanes—storms with winds exceeding 111 miles per hour, according to Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Science. AccuWeather also forecasts that a weak La Nina could persist through the season, enabling more storms to form.

While carriers are leveraging digital technology to provide early warning of impending storms to large swaths of policyholders, including hurricane preparedness tips, consumers should also take steps to ensure they stay safe.

Understand What Your Insurance Policies Cover

Periodically meet with your agent or talk to your insurance carrier to ensure you are fully aware of what your policy does and doesn’t cover.

For example, a homeowner’s insurance policy covers repair costs from the destruction caused by most natural disasters. However, flooding caused by a hurricane and the resulting storm surge is typically excluded, regardless of whether your property is in a coastal area or not. On the other hand, the comprehensive portion of your auto insurance policy usually covers hurricane damage to vehicles, such as damage from falling or flying debris, strong winds that cause damage (ex., a rollover), or water damage from surface water.

Identify coverage limitations and potential gaps that create inordinate risk and work with your provider to develop strategies and approaches to fill those gaps.

Take Steps to Mitigate Potential Property Damage

Aside from ensuring proper homeowner’s insurance coverages are in place, including a flood and wind policy if applicable, there are key things homeowners can do to lessen the risk of harm to their property, including using high-quality, long-lasting sealants to protect susceptible foundation areas (cracks, gaps, etc.). To mitigate losses from significant storm and water runoff events, ensure your property is properly graded away from the house on all sides. Install a back-flow valve, sump pump and backup sump pump to prevent sewage or storm water backups in the home. Take time to regularly clear gutters and downspouts of debris and check that downspouts pour away from the home. And secure or store at-risk items such as outdoor chairs, tables, umbrellas and pool covers when not in-use to prevent damage from strong winds.

Best Practices for Filing Post-Hurricane Claims

While following these tips can mitigate risk, there is still a chance for potential damage. If you have incurred or suspect you have suffered damage, contact your insurance company as soon as possible during or after the storm, but don’t put yourself at personal risk of injury to make the initial report. Keep track of and document all initial and ongoing expenses you bear due to the storm because they may be reimbursable.

Regardless of storm risk or status, homeowners should inventory and document (via photos where possible) their personal property every year, including age and value. It may sound like a chore, but in the event of a significant storm event that results in a loss, the handling of your claim will be more efficient, and potential property value disputes with your homeowner’s insurance carrier will be less likely.

Always remember that carriers want to help policyholders get back on their feet. As severe weather and natural disasters continue to cause disruption, following these tips can help mitigate risk and help resolve your claim faster.

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