Hurricane season has begun early this year, with the first named storm of the season, Alberto, making its appearance just days before the official season start date, which is June 1st. Tropical Storm Alberto is headed for the Gulf Coast and is expected to bring tropical storm conditions, including flooding rains, coastal storm surges, and high winds over the holiday weekend. Alberto is expected to strengthen within the next 72 hours, and may intensify to hurricane strength. Alberto’s winds have the capability of producing tornados. Additionally, the risk of flooding is heightened due to the heavy rain that has occurred over the past couple weeks.

While tropical storms often don’t cause as much damage as hurricanes, it is still important to prepare for them, as they can still cause a great deal of damage. Before the storm hits, there are a few precautions that homeowners should take to mitigate any potential damage to their homes:

  • Make sure the home is secure. Cut any tree limbs that may cause damage to the home if impacted by strong winds. Board up any windows if necessary;
  • Store an adequate amount of supplies and water in the event the power goes out;
  • Take any precautions necessary to protect against flooding, such as sandbagging;
  • Bring in any items from outside that could cause damage if high winds occur.

Homeowners should check their insurance policies and familiarize themselves with their coverage. It is important to remember that standard homeowners’ insurance policies do not cover flood damage. Flood coverage is available as a separate policy and can be obtained from the National Flood Insurance Program and a few private insurers.

After the storm, take notes and pictures of any damage that has occurred and promptly report it to your insurance company. Take an inventory of any damaged personal property. If temporary repairs are necessary to prevent the damage from worsening, those mitigating measures should be taken. Obtain any invoices or receipts, as they will be important to resolve your insurance claim. No permanent repairs should be done until after the insurance company has had an opportunity to inspect.

This early jump-start into the hurricane season should serve as a reminder that the time to protect your home is before a disaster strikes. Be sure to check your policy to ensure that you have all the coverage you need for the approaching hurricane season.

  • David Thompson, CPCU

    Your blog makes great points. One thing I’d suggest is that the time to “check your insurance policy” is not right before the storm, but instead when the policy is purchased. Making foolish decisions to save a few bucks at the time of purchase can come back to haunt you after the claim.

    Insurance policies are not all the same, and while price is usually a factor in the purchase of a policy, it’s far down the list. At the top of the list should be, “Obtain the best coverage possible.”

    When a storm is coming, it’s too late to make changes to a policy most times. Smart consumers buy a policy with the best coverage available; then they have little to worry about from a coverage standpoint after a loss.