An average hurricane season brings 11 storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. The region is still in a multi-decade period of high activity for hurricanes.

Post-hurricane research shows consistent evidence that structural survivability in a windstorm is based on proper mitigation and building codes. The single-most important component being opening protection, primarily the roof. Keeping roofs, windows and doors, including garage doors, in place when extreme winds hit is critical to containing losses. Once a structure is penetrated, the wind pressure inside the structure escalates attempting to push the roof off as wind pressure outside the structure tries to pull it off. That combination can lead to the entire loss of the roof and create huge losses both from the wind and the water that is penetrating the structure.

Window and door protection along with a reinforced garage door will protect these pressure points.

  • Use caulk to reseal around doors and windows
  • You can brace your garage door using a kit from a home improvement store

Most of the damage from windstorms is to roofs and roof decking.

  • Improperly installed roofs that are not nailed and/or strapped down will lead to loss of the roofing materials and roof decking
  • Roofs installed prior to stronger codes being in place can lack the proper attachments
  • Since the roof is the primary driver in wind exposure, it is an important focus when evaluating the strength of your home
  • Today there are many common construction-grade adhesives available that when applied to the joints where roof decking sits on rafters or trusses will hold the decking/sheathing down
  • Even better, homeowners who have access to these roof deck-rafter connections in their attics can do simple retrofits at a cost of less than $100
  • Another low cost retrofit to keep roofs down is to reinforce the gable ends of the roof. This can be done by a professional or the homeowner for typically less than $1000.

Failed soffits can result in devastating damage.

  • Once a soffit is loose from high winds, wind-driven rain can blow into the attic
  • For just a few dollars, adding wooden supports behind soffits can provide additional strength to withstand high winds

As the storm approaches, you’ll want to take precautions that help you when the storm passes.

  • Fill your car’s gas tank
  • Have emergency cash
  • Set your refrigerator to its coldest setting
  • Check your landscaping and outdoor furniture/decor so it does not become hazardous during the storm
  • Anything the wind can pick up should be anchored or brought inside

Hurricanes are complex storms, and we want to make sure you examine the many aspects of available policies and potential damage.

  • Do you have adequate coverage to replace the structure of your home?
  • Have you renovated your home or made improvements without contacting your agent to adjust coverage?
  • Coverage B covers other structures on your property, has this been discussed with your agent?
  • What about your personal property? Most homeowner policies have limitations on mobile personal property, however with a “schedule” you can provide additional coverage for items such as jewelry, antiques, collectibles, golf equipment and bicycles, just to name a few. Speak with your agent to determine if this coverage would provide needed protection.
  • Did you know that if you have insufficient coverage for the structure of your home, this will also impact the amount available for “loss of use” also known as Coverage D? This coverage can help pay for the increased cost of living away from home after a covered event if your house is uninhabitable.
  • Have you purchased a flood policy? Many insured’s believe they only need this coverage when their mortgage company requires it. Please discuss this additional and separate policy with your agent to determine if you are ready to take on the risk of a flood loss which is NOT covered by your standard homeowner policy.

Hurricane Categories

What exactly does it mean when meteorologists assign a category number to a hurricane? What factor decides just how severe a hurricane is? The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale breaks down the average wind speed within a hurricane into five categories. Categories 1 & 2 are considered minor storms while categories 3, 4 & 5 are considered major storms causing varying degrees of damage.

Category 1 (Minor)

  • Wind Speed: 74-95 mph; 119-153 km/h; 64-82 kt
  • Minimal Damage: Power outages, some damage to mobile homes and landscaping

Category 2 (Minor)

  • Wind Speed: 96-110 mph; 154-177 km/h; 83-95 kt
  • Widespread Damage: Power outages for several days, small structure damage, substantial mobile home damage, high rise window damage and roof material, window & door damage

Category 3 (Major)

  • Wind Speed: 111-129 mph; 178-208 km/h; 96-112 kt
  • Extensive Damage: Power outages for several days or weeks, structural damage to homes, minimal wall failure, mobile homes destroyed and uprooted trees.

Category 4 (Major)

  • Wind Speed: 130-156 mph; 209-251 km/h; 113-136 kt
  • Devastating Damage: Power outages for weeks, wall collapse and complete roof destruction

Category 5 (Major)

  • Wind Speed: >157 mph; >252 km/h; >137 kt
  • Catastrophic Damage: Power outages for weeks or months and building destruction

Don’t think you need flood insurance? The majority of damage as a result of a hurricane is typically caused by flooding which is NOT covered by your homeowners policy.