Peak Atlantic hurricane season is here! This is the time when Virginia typically experiences its most destructive tropical cyclones. This year's above-average season forecast by the National Weather Service included sixteen to twenty named tropical storms between June 1st and November 30th in the Atlantic hurricane basin. Three to five of those are predicted to turn into major hurricanes between August 15th and November 30th. Here at NNINS, we never underestimate the possible impact any big storm can have on Virginians, and for good reason. We know from experience it only takes ONE hurricane to devastate your home and property, resulting in costly wind and flood damage.
Start prepping for peak hurricane season now with our Hurricane Preparedness Guide. Besides having a good family plan, you can also think ahead about preparing your home, inside and out. We know from decades of home insurance claims that hurricanes impacting Virginia can pose four main risks to your home.
How to prepare the outside of your home for a hurricane
There are two ways to prepare outside your home for peak hurricane season. You want to reduce the risk of damage during strong, sustained winds. Flying debris such as signs, lawn and play equipment, and even small items left outside, can cause injury and property damage. High winds can turn innocent tree limbs into a sledgehammer if they are too close to your home or other property.
Outdoors items to bring in or secure before a hurricane:
- Check your gutters
- Grills and propane tanks
- Lawn furniture
- Garbage and recycling cans
- Loose play equipment and toys
- Gardening tools and planters
- Yard ornaments
Trim your trees
Trees can cause major damage during a hurricane, especially if you see they have existing issues. Have trees and shrubs professionally pruned or trim them yourself before a hurricane approaches to reduce the risk of flying debris during a storm. Remove dead or diseased trees and large overhanging limbs in anticipation of strong winds that can topple weak trees, causing costly damage to your roof, siding and windows, and other property.
Protect your car
It's best to park your car in a garage is possible when a hurricane warning is issued, and you are not asked to evacuate. If you don't have access to a garage, park your car away from large trees and power lines. We have more good ways to prepare your car for a hurricane, and FAQs about hurricane coverage.
How to prepare the inside of your home for a hurricane
Preparing the inside of your home for a hurricane is also important. Besides having emergency supplies on hand in the event of an extended power outage, there are a few more things you can do:
- Have battery-operated devices that will work when the electricity is out.
- Charge cordless tools and electronics and have backup battery power.
- Stock up on tarps, rolls of plastic, rope, and duct tape to use for emergency repairs after the storm.
- Identify the cutoff switches and valves for your water, power, and gas and know how to turn them off in case of an emergency. Severe damage to your home can cause a short or power surge in your electrical system and may also result in ruptured water or gas lines. Cutoffs for water and gas are usually located at or near the meter for each utility. Flip the main breaker in your circuit breaker box to turn off the power to your home.
- Make ice and buy extra water and nonperishable food.
- Close curtains, shutters, blinds, and interior doors.
- Plan how to take refuge in a windowless hallway, bathroom, or closet in the interior of your home. Bed mattresses can provide comfort and protection if your home suffers severe structural damage.
- Locate car, homeowner’s, boat, and life insurance policies, health records, and financial records and secure them.
- Have a home inventory in case of a claim.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Hurricane Damage?
Home insurance does cover hurricane damage. Check your policy for specific references to unique deductibles for tropical depressions, tropical storms, or hurricanes that are severe enough to be named by the National Weather Service. These can be referred to as hurricane deductibles.
It's also smart to speak to your local independent agent to make sure you are sufficiently covered for hurricane season, especially if you’ve recently done anything to your home that added value. Ask your agent for an insurance checkup to ensure you have enough homeowner insurance to repair or even replace your home.