Here come the hurricanes
Have you taken a look at the calendar lately? I know it seems like last week when you were putting Santa and his four legged friends back in their plastic storage bin, but guess what? It wasn’t. June is just a few days away, and June has a way of not only elevating the outside temperature, but also our anticipation of the months ahead.
As natural disasters go, I’ll take a hurricane over an earthquake, a tornado or flash flooding. With a hurricane you at least have several days to get prepared, but don’t wait until the storm track starts flashing across your TV screen. Get prepared now.
Before you even start thinking about buying cases of drinking water, batteries and a manual can opener, take a look at your homeowner’s insurance policy. An elderly neighbor of mine recently asked me to review his policy and I was horrified to see that he was only carrying $25,000 of coverage for replacement of the interior of his condo.
If you live in a condo, you are generally responsible for everything within the interior of the unit including sheetrock, kitchen cabinets, appliances, bathroom fixtures, carpeting, etc. Of course, if you live in a single-family home, you are also responsible for the exterior of the structure and the roof. Either way, make sure your coverage is adequate to replace everything you’re responsible for at today’s replacement costs.
Also, flood damage is not usually covered by homeowners’ insurance, and if you live in a flood zone, make sure you have flood insurance. If you live in a condominium, flood insurance is carried by the association. If you own a single family home flood insurance should be part of your coverage. Flood insurance as well as homeowner’s insurance is required by your lender if you carry a mortgage on your property.
Retrofitting your home with improvements that will help protect the property and your family in the event of a hurricane should be next on your list. Impact resistant windows are double pane glass with a heavy duty vinyl between the panes like automobile windshields. These windows are current Manatee County code for new construction and window replacements up to a certain percentage. Installing shutters over windows, reinforcing roof-to-wall connections, upgrading garage and exterior doors and improving roof coverings are improvements that make your home safer, and may even reduce your insurance premium.
If you don’t have a safety deposit box, get one large enough to accommodate anything you may want to add in the event of an oncoming storm and don’t forget to take the key with you if you evacuate. Some items you should not leave in your home if you need to evacuate are insurance policies for your automobiles, boat and home; registrations for automobiles and boats; passports; wills; professional licenses; birth certificates; marriage licenses; children’s school and medical records; pet records with proof of shots; savings and checking account records and checks.
Buy an external hard drive for your computer and back up all your records and take it with you. Also, it’s a good idea to take dated digital pictures of everything in your home, vehicles and boats for insurance purposes and put those on the external hard drive as well.
Hurricane season is a good time to keep extra cash on hand in the event banks don’t open for days and cash machines are inoperable. Also, think about what personal items like photo albums, artwork and important mementos are important, so you’re ready if the day comes.
Death, taxes and hurricanes are all inevitable, and except for taxes, we have no idea when the other two will strike. It’s time to get your house in order for whatever the summer will bring because before you know it you’ll be dragging out Santa and his guys again.