How to help avoid loss during hurricane season

Learn key tips to assist preparation for this year’s storm season

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1st through November 30th, and residents of coastal communities are advised to prepare for possible severe windstorms. A proactive mindset is important before, during, and after an event. To help, we consulted two Berkley One experts who provide risk management advice and respond to claims in coastal areas. Here are their top recommendations for emergency planning, and how to implement them.

 

1) Do not underestimate the risk of water and wind.

Many people fail to recognize the severe risk hurricanes pose to valuable items and assume their home or storage areas are secure enough. Baer Philipbar, a Property Claims Manager at Berkley One, observes, “Proactively addressing potential vulnerabilities can prevent a chain reaction of damage during a hurricane. By securing your property now and planning ahead of time, you can help avoid the compounded effects of water and wind damage later.” Those effects surely add up. For example, windborne debris can damage power lines, which subsequently cuts power, causing air conditioning units to break down. That chain reaction can lead to excessive humidity, resulting in damage to temperature-sensitive collectibles.

To help avoid these effects, consider the following:

•Check shutters/have them on the site ready for installation.
• Utilize a sump pump.
• Fill your propane tanks.
• Create an evacuation plan for cars and art.
• Install impact-resistant windows along with your shutters. Although this solution is required in some Florida locations, it is also effective in other coastal areas from Texas to the Carolinas to the Hamptons. Apply the same strategy for a primary home as for a vacation home.
• Create a plan for secondary locations if you are not on-site such as local property managers.

 

2) Avoid having too much green and not enough preen.

Helping to protecting a home in advance of hurricane season also means paying attention to the landscape. Not trimming trees and shrubbery before storm season can cause weak branches to snap, which can damage a home. The damage can take the form of causing a puncture in the structure, whether a hole in the roof or shattered windows that could allow water to penetrate the structure. Emily Beckham, a Berkley One Risk Consultant for the Southeast region, notes:

“Just like you go to the doctor each year for a checkup, you should be doing the same for the landscaping surrounding your property.”

She continues, “Professional arborists can review the health of your trees to provide trimming guidance and ensure they have strong root systems. They can also ensure those trees do not have bug infestations or other long-term diseases that could lead them to weaken, which could cause potential damage to your home.”

To keep the plant life around your home healthy and safe, consider the following:

• Remove broken/old/heavy branches from trees.
• Trim old, dried leaves from palm trees.
• Remove leaves, twigs, and debris from gutters.
• Remove plants and light furniture from balconies.
• Strap down outdoor furniture to prevent it from becoming air borne.

 

3) Be proactive.

Waiting until the last minute to make plans can lead to rushed decisions. Rushed decisions can compromise the safety of valuable collections. Bundling valuable artwork in bath towels and putting them in the trunk of a car to escape town during a hurricane evacuation is not a preferred strategy.

To better protect items at home, consider the following:

• Check your home’s vulnerability to flooding at www.fema.gov to acquire awareness of your proximity to areas that flood.
• Determine which, if any, works would need to be physically removed from the home in the event of a storm landfall.
• Elevate items off the floor to help minimize flood damage risk.
• Install shutters or have plywood boards ready to board up windows and patio doors.
• Find local art packers/shippers who can advise on best ways for waterproofing and durable storage options.
• Keep your collection in a secure, elevated position away from windows. If possible, move items to a more protected, interior location.
• Secure art properly. If evacuation is necessary, wrap art in plastic and secure it in a safe, elevated place within your home if it cannot be taken with you.
• Use protective storage. Employ prepared, secure storage solutions. Keep collectibles in their protective casings and away from windows or areas prone to leaks.

 

4) Avoid having neglected and inadequate Emergency Kits.

You’d probably bring bandages on a long hiking excursion, so why not gather a few crucial items in advance of a windstorm emergency? Consider including materials for the protection of items, like waterproof containers or silica gel packs, in your kits.

Consider keeping the following in your emergency kit at home:

• Waterproof containers or silica gel packs
• Flashlights with back-up batteries/chargers
• Diapers (more water absorbing than towels)
• Waterproof gloves

 

5) Have a back-up plan.

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry,” goes the famous quote from author John Steinbeck’s novella Of Mice and Men. According to our risk managers, the most successful mice and humans have a back-up plan. According to Baer Philipbar, the importance of contingency planning with back-up generators is vital.

“Dual-use generators running on both propane and gas have been known and trusted for years. They offer versatility and reliability, helping to ensure you have power when fuel supplies are limited following a hurricane.”

He continues, “Thinking smarter and preparing is always a good measure to take. You can even go beyond by incorporating both a dual-use generator and a solar generator. It can double your protection and security, and a solar generator is easier to maintain. The combination helps ensure you have power when you need it most.”

Here a few back-up plan recommendations:

• Keep a digital record of ownership, appraisals, and photographs of your items. This makes the insurance claims process go more smoothly and helps in recovery efforts.
• Designate someone to activate your emergency plan in the event you are away from the affected location.
• Remember your wine and spirits. For high-value bottles, consider packing them in watertight containers to protect against flood damage.

 

Hope isn’t a strategy, so homeowners in coastal cities and states are encouraged to become intentional about the safety and security of their property and passion investments. At Berkley One, we also offer risk consultants who can suggest plans and vetted vendors who can assist with solutions relevant to the size, build and location of your homes. Reach out to your independent insurance agent and ask about Berkley One’s advisory services.

Also, the Berkley One Command Center contains tips for preparedness for hurricanes and other weather events and advises how to call in a claim.

 

Berkley One is a Berkley Company.