Today marks the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season, and early predictions by NOAA suggest that this will be an average season with as many as four to seven hurricanes.
The National Hurricane Center says there is a 70 percent chance of having 9 to 14 named storms, of which 4 to 7 could become hurricanes, including one to three major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5).
Hurricane season runs from June 1st through November. Tropical systems all get names, and the first one will be named “Ana” when it reaches sustained winds of at least 39 mph. Tropical storms become hurricanes when winds reach 74 mph, and become major hurricanes when winds increase to 111 mph.
Here are seven tips on getting ready for hurricanes or tropical storms:
1. If you have property in a hurricane-prone area, seriously consider buying flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program. Buy the coverage now, not when storm clouds gather. Go to www.floodsmart.gov for more details.
2. Dig out your property insurance policy and read it. If there is anything you do not understand, call your agent and get your questions answered.
3. Make sure that you are insured 100% to replacement value. In this economy, market value has dropped, but replacement value is still high. A good average for replacement value is $80.00 per square foot.
4. Make sure that you have the replacement cost endorsement on the building and the contents.
5. Be sure what your deductible is. In many hurricane-prone areas, the insurance companies assess a deductible which is a percentage of the building policy limit, such as 2%, 3% or 5%.
6. Contact a Public Adjuster (PA). Have a conversation about the services a PA can perform for you when you have a major loss. Knowledge is power, but knowledge can also get you a lot more money at claim time.
7. Remember that if a civil authority issues an evacuation order, your homeowners policy will cover your Additional Living Expense while you’re out of your home. Read the policy for the details.
Let’s hope that this hurricane season will pass without even one storm striking land!