It’s that time again. Just like death and taxes, preparing for the Atlantic hurricane season every year is inevitable for Sarasota/Bradenton residents. However, just because it happens every year, doesn’t mean you should become complacent or neglect your preparations. You and your loved ones have a much better chance of riding out the season safely if you take a few minutes to review your hurricane season plans. (And if this is your first Florida hurricane season, be sure to check out the links at the bottom of this post for more detailed information!)
Before the storms
One of the first steps you should take is to review your homeowners insurance policy limits and coverage. See the declarations page of your policy for this information. Are the policy limits adequate to repair or rebuild your home? What about coverage for your personal property? An up-to-date home inventory will help to make the process smoother if you need to make a claim. Take photos or video of your belongings, and keep receipts for big ticket items.
Remember, homeowners policies have a special deductible which applies only to hurricanes. It’s usually a percentage of your home’s insured value rather than a flat dollar amount, as with a fire or theft claim. While raising your deductible may save you a little money on your premiums, you’ll need to be sure you’re able to pay that deductible should you need to make a claim.
Please call your agent at Lakewood Financial (941-747-4600) if you need help understanding your policy, if you need to adjust your policy limits, or you need a homeowners insurance quote.
Consider buying flood insurance, even if you’re not in a flood zone. Ninety percent of all natural disasters involve flooding, and flood damage is NOT covered under homeowners insurance. (Click here for a flood insurance quote.)
You might also consider sewer backup coverage, which is also not covered by standard homeowners insurance. It can usually be added to a policy for a nominal fee.
Important: If you decide to buy flood insurance, or make changes to your homeowners insurance policy, don’t wait until a storm is brewing. Coverage cannot be bound when a storm is approaching.
Store your insurance agent’s number and the claims number for your homeowners insurance company in your phone, and make a note of your homeowners insurance policy number.
Collect emergency supplies, especially water (one gallon per person/per day for at least seven days). You’ll also want to stash non-perishable food, extra batteries, first aid supplies, prescription medications, diapers and formula, and pet supplies.
Make plans for evacuation if you’re in an evacuation zone. Know where to go and what to take with you.
Make other basic preparations, including gassing up your car and checking air in tires, as well as oil and water levels. Have some cash on hand, charge your cell phone, tablet, and laptop, and refill prescriptions if possible. Have a portable, battery-operated or NOAA weather radio available for storm updates and instructions if the power is out.
Enable wireless emergency alerts on your cell phone.
Prepare your home and landscaping against a hurricane’s effects. Have trees and branches trimmed, especially those hanging over a structure. Consider installing storm shutters and a wind-rated garage door. Plan what to do with smaller items like potted plants, children’s toys, pool and patio furniture.
If a storm is imminent, turn the refrigerator and freezer to their coldest settings to keep food cooler longer. You may also want to store some perishable items you’ll want access to in a cooler with ice if the power goes out. If you don’t open the door to the refrigerator or freezer, the food will also stay cooler longer. Please be mindful of food safety—click here for more information.
Clean and fill tubs and sinks with water to use for flushing toilets and washing.
During the storm
Stay inside and away from windows, glass doors, or skylights. The safest spot is an interior room with no windows. Close the garage door, exterior doors and windows, as well as all interior doors. Research found that closing interior doors helped to compartmentalize pressure inside a home, reducing pressure on the roof by as much as 30 percent.
Preparing for a hurricane ahead of time can help you minimize its impact. Spend a few minutes now reviewing what you plan to do, what supplies you have on hand, and which ones you need to replenish. Check out the links below for more detailed information. And remember, Lakewood Financial is here to serve all your insurance needs. Please let one of our agents help you make sure you’ve got the homeowners insurance coverage that best fits your needs this hurricane season, and beyond. Call us at 941-747-4600, or click here to contact us online.
For more information:
Manatee County Disaster Planning Guide