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Additional hurricane preparation tips as season reaches peak

Posted On Fri, August 16, 2013

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration maintains that there's still a 70 percent chance that the Atlantic hurricane season will produce between 13 and 19 storms before the year closes in December. This may seem unlikely, given the fact that there's been only four named storms in 2013 as of mid-August, none of which were major.

However, according to Chris Hackett, director of personal lines for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, the NOAA doesn't have to be spot-on accurate for the season to be particularly devastating. Just ask those who witnessed Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Hurricane Sandy last year.

"It is important for coastal residents to keep in mind that it only takes one major storm such as Hurricane Sandy or Irene to have a devastating impact on a community, region or entire state," said Hackett. "These storms which rocked the Northeast in 2012 and 2011 demonstrated that preparation for hurricane season is something everyone along the east coast should take serious."

He added that while no one may be able to determine with 100 percent accuracy how many storms may occur or how active the season may be, what can largely be controlled is how homeowners respond and react to disasters as they present themselves.

With this in mind, PCI offers several recommendations homeowners and renters may want to keep in mind with hurricane season still months from being over.

Review details of policy
One of the most important things to do, in addition to reviewing insurance rates, is evaluate one's insurance policy. PCI notes that it's crucial to do this on at least an annual basis, as a homeowner will often make additions to their property over the course of a year that may warrant extra protection - such as if they have renovated the home or have made a substantial purchase.

Another reason for an insurance evaluation is to take another look at the plan's deductible amount. The deductible is the portion of an insurance claim that the policyholder is responsible for paying before the insurer picks up the difference. The higher the deductible is, the cheaper premiums tend to be, as the homeowner is assuming more of the cost. Additionally, PCI notes that it's important to be aware of what type of deductible it is, as some are based on the home's value while others are a fixed dollar amount.

Reconsider options that weren't purchased before
Something else to keep in mind are optional plans that a policyholder may have not wanted before, but now does. For example, many people are under the impression that home insurance includes flood coverage. In reality, this has to be expressly requested before purchasing a plan. Some may opt not to have it if they're not in a high-risk area. However, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, roughly one in every five homeowners who are not in high-risk areas file a claim through the National Flood Insurance Program each year. Additionally, floods are the most common natural disaster in the U.S.

In short, PCI notes that an owner may want to take another look at their home insurance plan to see if flood coverage may be worthwhile.

While home insurance provides the funds a policyholder need to fix their property following a disaster, it's important to take steps that can reduce the impact of a storm should one take place. PCI indicates that smart weatherproofing strategies include installing storm shutters and securing lawn and patio furniture, should there be a hurricane warning in effect.

According to NOAA, an average year for hurricane activity is one that produces 12 named storms, three of which can be classified as major. The updated Atlantic hurricane forecast calls for 13 to 19 named storms and three to five major hurricanes, or those that produce sustained wind gusts of at least 111 mph.

Feedback or questions? Email the editor here.

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