Hurricane season began June 1 and ends November 30. Locals call our part of the Gulf Coast Hurricane Alley. While we have not had a major hurricane in 12 years, that is no reason not to prepare. Every homeowner should have a plan for what to do. We have prepared a short list that should get you started.
- Get insurance. Homeowners should have windstorm insurance in place before the storm hits. Now is the time to make sure your policy is current. When a storm is in the Gulf, insurance companies will not write wind storms policies. By then, it could be too late to get storm protection. Your policy should have adequate coverage for replacement of your home and contents. If you know a contractor, you may want to call him or her to get a ballpark estimate of your home’s replacement cost. Then talk with your insurance adjuster about how much coverage will be enough. Consider that construction costs can escalate after a storm. Demand will be high for contractors and building supplies. If you rent, get renters insurance with enough coverage for your personal items and for living expenses if your rental is uninhabitable. Whether you own your home or rent, find out whether you have replacement or actual value contents coverage.
- Stock up on supplies. People should plan to be self-sustaining for 72 hours. Have at least of three days worth of drinking water on hand for each family member and pet. Stock up on three to seven days of non-perishable food for all family members and pets. Stock up on 2 weeks of toiletries such as toilet paper, bleach, soap, sanitizer, feminine products, garbage bags, and the like. Have batteries, a first aid kit, pet supplies, and supplies of prescription and non-prescription drugs, and a battery powered radio on hand. If you have a baby, stock up on formula, diapers, and other baby supplies. For an exhaustive list, University of Florida IFAS has a good checklist.
- Prepare your home. Trim or remove damaged limbs from trees in your yard. Clear and clean any and all rain gutters and downspouts and secure any that are loose. Put up storm shutters or window covers and secure garage and entrance doors. Make sure your generator is working. Secure and seal your roof to keep water from intruding.
- Inventory your home. Many disputes with windstorm claims concern contents. Document all the contents of your house. Take pictures of all your most valuable items like jewelry, guns, collectibles, musical instruments, and antiques. Walk through your home with a video recorder to preserve all your contents. Document all rooms, closets, pantries, and your garage. The better you document all your contents, the better able you will be to get top dollar for your claims.