Chicken Little’s “sky is falling” warning, the Y2K computer scare, the little boy who cried wolf: these are famous examples of predictions that caused a frenzy – only to result in a disillusioned audience when the predictions wound up being false alarms. Unfortunately, a less-than-accurate hurricane forecast can have the same type of effect – in fact, it’s a condition that even has a name: hurricane apathy.

Despite major technological advancements, predicting a hurricane’s path is still as much an art as it is a science – and every near-miss has the potential to lull people into a false sense of security so that they ignore the next forecast. Whether or not its trajectory is accurately predicted, if a hurricane hits close to home and you haven’t taken the appropriate precautions, the results could be devastating – especially as a Florida home insurance customer. Now’s the time to tackle a few home improvement projects and make sure you have the insurance coverage in place in case the unfortunate occurs. No one can stop Mother Nature’s wrath, but when it comes to hurricane preparedness, failing to plan is planning to fail.

It’s not the size of the dog in the fight…

Hurricane category isn’t always the best predictor of the amount of damage a storm can do (Sandy was a “Superstorm” – not a hurricane – when it wreaked havoc across the northeast). Even “no-name” storms can inflict major destruction.

Horseshoes, rabbit's feet, four-leaf clovers, oh my!

Call us lucky, blessed or fortunate, but Florida hasn’t experienced a direct hurricane landfall since Wilma entered the southwest coast of the state with 120-mph winds in October 2005. Like all good things, our stretch of landfall-free hurricane seasons will come to an end at some point. As residents of the state with the most people and property exposed to hurricane damage in the country, it’s important for every Floridian to be prepared in case this is the year Mother Nature decides to put an end to our lucky streak.

Fact:   Since 1851, 120 hurricanes have hit Florida, according to data from the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory. This is 41 percent of the total number of U.S. hurricane strikes.

An ounce of prevention…

Taking steps to make sure your home can withstand hurricane-force winds not only helps reduce the damage of a storm, it can also help reduce your insurance rates by way of wind mitigation discounts.  Consider retrofitting your openings (all exterior windows, doors – including garage doors – and skylights) to include impact-resistant products.

Other helpful retrofits include:

  • Improving the strength of a roof deck attachment
  • Creating a secondary water barrier to prevent water intrusion
  • Improving the survivability of a roof covering
  • Bracing gable-end walls
  • Reinforcing roof-to-wall connections

Make sure to notify your agent about your upgrades to find out if they can help you qualify for wind mitigation discounts! And don’t forget to take an inventory of your belongings. An online home inventory you can access on-the-go is especially helpful if you must evacuate quickly due to a storm.

When it comes to home insurance, are you under cover(ed)?

Do you know your (hurricane) deductible? Standard home insurance policies don’t cover flood – a typical hurricane by-product. Do you have a separate flood insurance policy? Have you made any upgrades to your home and/or furniture since you purchased your policy? Have a talk with your agent to make sure that your home and contents are adequately covered.

When it comes to hurricane season, we should all live by the Boy Scouts’ motto and “be prepared.” What steps are you taking to prepare?