Be Prepared for the 2018 Hurricane Season

2018 Heritage Insurance Hurricane Guide

Click to Download the 2018 Hurricane Guide

Since 1851, nearly 300 hurricanes have struck the state of Florida. In 2005 alone the state was hit by 15 hurricanes and 28 major storms.

For those living in landlocked states further inland, hurricanes are just something that pop up on the news now and again. For those of us here in Florida, though — the hardest hit state in the country in terms of hurricanes — the danger they present is very real. Here in Florida, hurricane preparedness isn’t an option: it’s a necessity.

With the 2018 hurricane season about to start, experts are predicting that the number and severity of storms may be even worse than in 2017. Now’s the time to prepare yourself and your family ahead of time, before disaster strikes.

Download the 2018 Heritage Hurricane Preparedness Guide

The information offered here is meant to highlight a few of the most important things you can do when preparing for a hurricane. For a more detailed guide that includes advice for supplies, checklists, insurance info, emergency contact information, and more, download the free 2018 Heritage Insurance Hurricane Preparedness Guide

Homeowners Insurance

One of the most important things you can do when it comes to hurricane preparedness is ensuring that you have an adequate homeowners insurance policy — one that covers potential damage from a hurricane.

Even a relatively mild hurricane can cause significant amounts of damage to the exterior of your home. In the event of a category 5 hurricane, your home could need many thousands of dollars worth of repairs following the storm. Some insurance policies come with a specific hurricane deductible. In order to use your policy to pay for damage caused by a hurricane, you’ll have to pay the hurricane deductible first. Repairs can only begin once the deductible has been paid.

Just like with other forms of insurance, a higher deductible generally translates to a lower monthly premium, whereas a higher monthly premium allows for a lower deductible. It’s important to ensure that you choose the right balance of premium and deductible for your family’s financial needs: don’t go with the cheapest possible premium if it means a deductible that you won’t be able to afford in the event of hurricane damage.

Many policies also including some sort of coverage for living expenses that might accompany damage. Keep in mind that these sorts of benefits can be incredibly important in the event of a major hurricane. If the roof is torn from your home or major flooding occurs, your house may be unlivable until after repairs have been completed. The cost of a hotel rooms and associated expenses can add up quickly.

As part of hurricane preparedness, it’s also important to take a thorough inventory of your personal property. This will make filing a homeowners insurance claim much easier in the event of storm damage.

Be sure that your list of personal property is as complete as possible. Consider dividing items up by category (such as electronics, furniture, home decor, appliances, jewelry, etc), as this can make it easier to ensure that you haven’t missed anything important. Document the name of the item, its brand, the date it was purchased, its value at the time of purchase, and any other details that might be relevant. It’s also helpful to take high quality photos of items.

Understanding Hurricane Terminology

A big part of preparing for hurricane season is understanding the various technical terms that you’ll hear throughout the year. If you’re not sure about the difference between a tropical storm and a category 5, for example, or a warning versus a watch, you’ll want to brush up on these technicalities ahead of time.

Here’s a quick overview of some important hurricane terms:

  • Tropical depression: Storm with sustained wind speeds ranging from 25-39 mph.
  • Tropical storm: Sustained wind speeds of 39-73 mph.
  • Hurricane: Wind speeds of over 73 mph.
  • Tropical storm or hurricane watch: Issued when tropical storm or hurricane conditions may impact an area within the next 48 hours.
  • Tropical storm or hurricane warning: Issues when tropical storm or hurricane condition are expected to impact an area within the next 36 hours.

Pay attention to hurricane category information as well:

  • Category 1 hurricane: 74-95 mph winds, minimal damage
  • Category 2 hurricane: 96-110 mph winds, more serious damage
  • Category 3 hurricane: 111-130 mph winds, extensive damage
  • Category 4 hurricane: 131-155 mph winds, catastrophic damage
  • Category 5 hurricane: 156+ mph winds, extremely catastrophic damage

Preparing to Ride Out a Hurricane At Home

If a hurricane isn’t severe enough to warrant an evacuation, you may be able to ride out the storm at home. Keep in mind that staying home may be unsafe even if a hurricane evacuation hasn’t been ordered, as certain structures (such as mobile homes and high-rise buildings) may not be able to withstand the force of the hurricane.

When preparing for the storm, stockpile adequate supplies ahead of time. It’s important to put together a home hurricane kit long before a storm is due to strike, as stores will quickly sell out of supplies once a hurricane watch has been issued. Be sure you’ve accounted for adequate drinking water, canned food, blankets, lighting, and other emergency supplies.

Stockpile these items in the center of your home, as far from outer windows as possible. Install hurricane shutters, or use plywood if hurricane shutters are unavailable. Charge cell phones and computers ahead of time, and unplug any appliances that you aren’t using. Turn electronic devices off when not in use to conserve battery, and be sure that you have a functioning smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in place. Stay in a central location in your home: the further you are from windows and exterior doors, the better.

Evacuating During a Hurricane

In some cases, you may have to evacuate your home during a hurricane. If an evacuation order is issued by the authorities, evacuation is not optional: it’s mandatory.

When preparing to evacuate, be sure that you’re clear on the location of the nearest evacuation shelter. If you have pets, call ahead to ensure that you can bring them along. Some shelters accept pets, while others don’t. If you have family members or friends who live outside of your evacuation zone, staying with them is an option as well.

Be sure to stick to appropriate evacuation routes along the way. Don’t attempt to take short cuts, as some roads may be closed. While heading to the nearest shelter, tune into the emergency radio station and check for updates regularly.