CHICAGO—The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) recommends that homeowners, businesses owners and renters take all the necessary steps to ensure that everyone is prepared for the potentially devastating effects of a major storm. There are many things that can be done to help protect people and structures prior to the start of hurricane season on June 1st.
Leading weather researchers are forecasting an active hurricane season. The Colorado State University Department of Atmospheric Science and released its 2013 Extended Range Forecast of Atlantic Seasonal Hurricane Activity and Landfall Strike Probability on April 10th. The forecast calls for 18 named storms, including nine hurricanes, four classified as major (Category 3, 4 or 5). CSU also projects a 72 percent chance of at least one major hurricane hitting the United States, as compared to a 52 percent average over the course of the last century. The east coast, including the Florida peninsula, is projected to have a 48 percent chance of a major hurricane, compared to a 31 percent average over the last century, and the Gulf coast, including the Florida panhandle, is projected to have a 47 percent chance of a major hurricane, compared to a 30 percent average for the century. For more information:http://tropical.atmos.colostate.edu/forecasts/2013/apr2013/apr2013.pdf.
Additionally, the North Carolina State University Coastal Fluid Dynamics Lab is forecasting 13-17 tropical storms, compared to a 63-year average of 10.8, and this includes 7-10 hurricanes, with 3-6 major hurricanes, as compared to averages since 1950 of 6.3 and 2.7, respectively. More on that forecast is available athttp://cfdl.meas.ncsu.edu/research/TCoutlook_2013.html.
“To prevent the loss of life and minimize property damage, it is vital that coastal residents create a family disaster plan, maintain an emergency supply kit, and stay informed about approaching storms,” said Hackett. “In addition, the stormproofing of structures is one of the most effective ways to promote public safety and reduce the costs of homeowners insurance.”
Taking proactive steps to strengthen structures not only protects policyholders’ families and assets; it also strengthens the property insurance market, on both the state and federal levels, by reducing risk exposure.
Homeowners can take simple steps to help protect their property and assets from becoming a casualty of a storm. PCI has developed the following tips that will help consumers reduce exposure to losses and make certain that they have adequate insurance coverage to recover from the economic damage of a catastrophic event.
1. Inventory household items now to speed up claims processing after the storm. Inventory household items, and photograph or videotape them for further documentation. Keep this information and all insurance policies in a safe place, such as a safety deposit box.
2. Store important documents where they will stay safe and dry. Keep the name, address and claims-reporting telephone number of the insurance company and agent in a safe and easily accessible place. Property owners should keep a copy of their insurance policies and other important papers with them in a watertight package.
3. Develop an emergency plan before the emergency. Every family should have an emergency plan. Emergency planners suggest that discussing the type of hazards that could affect policyholders’ families and consider the home’s vulnerability to storm surge, flooding and wind. Determine escape routes from the home and establish a meeting place. Stock non-perishable emergency supplies and a disaster supply kit with enough food and water for three to seven days. When severe weather is approaching, listen carefully to local authorities and take the necessary precautions to protect life, safety and property. If given an order to evacuate because of threatening weather conditions, do so. Contact a friend or family member and give that person your contact information. Remember to shut off the home’s water and electricity and to lock all doors and windows.
4. Perform routine home maintenance now to avoid major repairs later. Mitigation is a critical component in reducing the amount of damage that may occur when a hurricane or tropical storm makes landfall. Adding storm shutters and other retrofitting can help protect a home from strong winds. In addition, a well maintained home will help ensure that roofing, windows and doors are secure. Structural problems and weaknesses can also be identified and corrected before major damage occurs.
5. Don’t make the house a target for debris. Policyholders should protect their property by covering all windows with plywood or shutters, moving vehicles into the garage when possible and placing grills and patio furniture indoors. Make sure watercrafts are stored in a secure area, like a garage or covered boat dock. A typical homeowners policy will cover property damage in limited instances for small watercraft, and separate boat policies will provide broader, more extensive property and liability protection for larger, faster boats, yachts and jet skis.