Hurricanes can leave you vulnerable to major losses. In addition to having the necessary insurance coverage, there are other steps you can take to increase your safety and minimize your losses after a storm.
Before the Storm Hits
• Prune weak branches and trees around your home. Use hearty native plants in your landscaping design. Replace gravel/rock landscaping materials with a softer material, such as shredded bark or mulch. Trim trees and shrubbery away from structures and remove any weakened sections of trees that might easily break off and fall onto structures.
• Use mulch instead of pebbles around plantings (pebbles can cause damage in high winds).
• Take pictures of your property and building. It will make the claims process smoother in the event your business sustains damage.
• Ensure drains on terraces and balconies are not clogged and allow water to flow freely.
• If able, replace standard windows with impact resistant window systems.
• Get an Emergency back-up generator – A back-up power source such as a generator that is capable of providing electricity to parts of your home can help keep it running properly.
• Have any basic maintenance done before a storm threatens.
• Maintain a current and complete inventory. In the event of significant loss, a detailed inventory may help to facilitate the claims process.
• If you have high-value items, do this: Current valuations help ensure your collection is adequately insured. They may also assist during the claims process in the unfortunate event of damage or loss. Appraisals should be updated every three to five years. The appraiser can also determine optimal storage environments if objects need to be moved and/or stored as part of your emergency plan. Consult your preferred appraiser to find out what is recommended for the works in your collection.
When a Hurricane is coming
Move personal possessions to the center of your home, away from windows and doors. If possible, elevate items, including drapes, and cover them with plastic. Place towels at the base of doors to absorb any water that may enter.
• Remove all patio furniture from your yard or terrace, including lawn furniture, planters, bird feeders, and decorative objects to prevent them from becoming flying missiles. Store the items in your garage or house.
• Fill the fuel supply for your back-up electrical generator and your vehicle.
• Place important documents, such as insurance policies, bank information, credit card information and important contact numbers, in a plastic container.
• Caulk around openings – Be sure to check the caulking around exterior doors and windows, it can become mildewed and cracked from summer rains. The lack of seal around windows and doors is a common point of water intrusion from wind driven ran.
• Secure fireplace dampers and flues – Ensure all fireplace dampers and flues are closed. Blankets and towels can be placed in this area to reduce any damage. Stretch wrap is also an easy way to cover the opening and ensure debris does not stain furniture or rugs.
• Prepare your home for responders – Think about things such as, is your property gated? Are your street numbers clearly visible? Secure means of communication because cell service may be down, email may be a more reliable form of communication.
After a hurricane
• If you discover water in your home, contact a restoration company immediately to begin the water extraction process.
• Check circuits and equipment before restoring power.
• Run the air conditioner to dehumidify your home.
• Remove any wet items and store them in the garage, if possible.
• Call your insurance company immediately to report how, when and where the loss or damage occurred. Have your policy number handy and give them a general description of damages.