Hurricane - Know Your Risk
If your home sits anywhere along the Eastern Coast, even inland, it could be at risk of hurricane damage. Hurricanes combine strong winds, thunderstorms, flooding, and other hazards that can prove dangerous to your family and your home. Find out if you're at risk here. Remember, only some aspects of hurricane damage (wind, thunderstorm, hail damage) are covered by standard home insurance policies. Homeowners policies typically do not cover flooding. If your home is along the coast or is located in a floodplain, you may be required to buy flood insurance from FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program. Even if you're not required to have it, you should consider it. In addition, your home insurance policy might have a hurricane deductible that requires you to pay out of pocket before filing a claim for damage.
During the Season
Hurricanes allow a little bit of warning time. Make sure you're prepared to board up your house quickly. Before hurricane season (June 1 to November 30), buy, cut, and fit plywood to your windows and doors with premade holes where screws would go when you're boarding up. This way, when the evacuation occurs, you'll be ready to protect your home and efficiently leave with your family. Keep flood precautions in mind by always storing important or valuable items above base flood levels.
When a Storm Threatens
Residents of coastal areas typically know about hurricanes before they make landfall. Prepare for a hurricane by fortifying your home. Attach the precut plywood coverings you have for your windows or close hurricane shutters. Move valuables to the upper floors of your home. Turn off your utilities, lock your doors, and set security alarms before you evacuate.
Many folks think they want to "ride out" hurricanes. It's a bad idea – dangerous for you, those around you, and for rescue workers. Follow evacuation orders. When possible, pets should be part of your evacuation planning – remember, they're often not allowed at emergency shelters. Be sure your house is securely locked when you leave.
When You Return
After a hurricane, your first thought likely is to rush back inside your house. But you should exercise caution. Natural gas leaks and other unexpected hazards could be waiting for you. Once you get inside the house, search thoroughly for signs of damage. You can make minor repairs to protect your possessions and home from further damage. Keep all receipts. Be aware that scam artists often show up after disasters, hoping to take advantage of distraught homeowners.
File a Claim
As soon as possible, file your home insurance claim. Starting the process early can help you get conditions back to 'normal.' Having that completed home inventory will help you get a leg up on the process.