Now is the time to prepare for a hurricane. The Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from June 1 through November 30. Although National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Prediction Center forecasts a 60% chance that the remainder of this year’s season will be below average, it only takes one storm to cause damage to your property. Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) urges coastal communities and policyholders to protect themselves, their families, and their property by taking the following steps today.
1. Update your insurance coverage - make sure you have both windstorm and flood policies
Get windstorm and flood insurance well in advance of any storm. Most insurance companies, including TWIA, cannot offer a windstorm policy once a storm appears in the Gulf of Mexico (learn more). Flood coverage (which TWIA cannot provide) is offered through the National Flood Insurance Program and requires a 30-day waiting period after you purchase it before it becomes effective.
Understand what is included in your policy to avoid any surprises, and insure your property for what it would cost to rebuild, not current market value. Now is the time to meet with your insurance agent to update your policy. Visit our Inside a Policy page to learn more about TWIA policies, and our Policy Forms and Endorsements page to see examples of specific documents.
2. Take pictures of your home and personal property
Document your home and belongings with photos or video. Keep all important records like these in a safe location. If you need to file a claim, having an inventory will help expedite that process and help ensure an accurate claim payment for your covered belongings.
3. Prepare your property
A little preparation now can go a long way in reducing property damage during a storm. Install storm shutters (alternatively, cut plywood so it’s ready to install over windows in the build-up to a storm), trim trees, install roof straps, reinforce garage doors, and clear rain gutters and downspouts. Find additional tips at www.twia.org/hurricane-preparedness/.
4. Write down your emergency plan and build an emergency kit
Make a plan for you and your family and practice it. Know your area’s evacuation routes and where you can stay if you are ordered to evacuate. Create a list of important contacts and sign up for local emergency alerts.
Assemble an emergency kit that includes important basics (ex: water, nonperishable food, flashlight, batteries, etc.) and covers the unique needs of your family and pets. Because disasters can strike anywhere, make multiple kits: one for your home, one for your work, and one for your car. Ready.gov has additional tips to consider when building your kit.
5. Know where your important documents are located
Know where your important documents (ex. insurance policies, birth certificates, marriage licenses, passports, mortgage papers, social security cards, etc.) are located. Don’t leave these items behind when you evacuate.
Visit www.twia.org/hurricane-preparedness for additional preparedness tips
Our hurricane preparedness page includes information on coastal building codes and TWIA eligibility, how to file a claim with TWIA, and steps to prioritize repairs after a storm.
How is TWIA helping the coast prepare?
Spreading the Word
Each year, TWIA shares preparedness information online, through coastal advertising, and by participating in hurricane expos and conventions. In addition to Hurricane Harvey recovery events, this year TWIA has or is scheduled to participate in nine public disaster preparedness events, with more on the horizon. Visit the Community Outreach section of our website to view upcoming events.
TWIA creates Hurricane Preparedness activity packets to support educators when teaching the science of hurricanes and how to prepare for one. They are distributed as a public service to third, fourth, and fifth grade classrooms on the Texas Gulf Coast and include English- and Spanish-language take-home materials for families and a creativity contest for students (see the winners). This year we celebrated 25 years of our educational program and distributed 3,500 activity packets to 300 elementary schools.
TWIA Is Prepared, Too
Our Emergency Plan: The TWIA Catastrophe Plan
At the core of our storm preparedness program is the TWIA Catastrophe (CAT) Incident Response Plan, which is updated and tested each year. The 2018 plan retains the storm-tested components of 2017’s plan and incorporates 2018 improvements born of our Hurricane Harvey experience. It outlines how we mitigate the effects of, prepare for, respond to, and recover from catastrophic weather disasters.
If you are an insurance agent, we encourage you to join our mailing list to stay up-to-date on important news and resources for your clients and business.