Hurricane insurance

Now that we're in the early stage of the annual hurricane season, which officially lasts from June 1 through November 30, homeowners need to take the necessary steps to protect their home from the elements. While the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasted a below-normal season, even a single hurricane can cause significant damage to homes and properties. NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan pointed out that 1992 was a below-normal season and only seven named storms formed, however, the very storm of that year was the Category 5 Major Hurricane Andrew, which ravaged South Florida and caused millions of dollars in structural damage.

"A below-normal season doesn't mean we're off the hook," said Sullivan. "As we've seen before, below-normal seasons can still produce catastrophic impacts to communities."

While the weather still remains unpredictable and uncontrollable, there are steps homeowners can take to protect their homes from the damage hurricanes can cause. While most homeowners insurance policies cover windstorms, the extent of your coverage will depend on your policy and if a particularly brutal hurricane touches down. You might experience more damages than what your policy covers. However, as 360Financial Literacy noted, some areas that are especially prone to high windstorms and hurricanes might be excluded from coverage for damages.

Here are three tips for people to safeguard their homes from hurricanes:

1. The roof
The age of the house is an important variable for wind. While the entire house needs to be able to withstand the ravages of the wind, the house's roof is especially critical, since an old roof will not be able to sustain the same sort of wind damage that a newer roof could handle. The age of the roof can almost be more important than the age of the building itself.

The Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory noted that wind pushes against the roof, which puts pressure on the walls and down into the home's foundation. This pressure can cause significant damage when it is not properly transferred into the ground and away from the home.

If your roof is too old, you should consider replacing it, since a weak roof can cause your whole house to suffer damages. After the roofing contractor removes the old coverings down to the bare wood sheathing, confirm the rafters and trusses are securely attached to the walls. If any sheathing is damaged, replace it. Once the sheathings are all secured, install a wind-resistant roof covering.

2. The windows
Glass windows are extremely susceptible to the high winds experienced during a hurricane. Be sure to install impact-resistant windows systems. As an alternative to these windows, you can place impact-resistant shutters over the windows to block them from flying debris. If you do not have the time or money to install new windows or shutters, an easy, temporary and effective way to secure the windows is to cover them with plywood or oriented strand board.

3. The doors
Make sure all your doors are securely attached by at least three hinges and lock with a deadbolt at least one inch long. Sliding glass doors are much more vulnerable than normal front doors. Similar to your windows, if a hurricane is threatening, use plywood to board up the glass doors.

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