Hurricane Damage

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Hurricane Damage to Your Property

  • There have been 56 weather and climate disasters in the U.S. in the past three years (2019 to 2021) with losses exceeding $1 billion.
  • The total approximate cost of damages from weather and climate disasters since 1980 is $2.155 trillion
  • In 2021 alone, the U.S. experienced over $20 billion in climate disasters.

What Happens During a Hurricane?

A Hurricane is a combination of high winds that can destroy power lines and most structures and the pouring rain that causes flooding and extensive water damage. Hurricanes can literally level buildings and tear off roofs, and there can also be several types of damage than can remain unseen until they reveal themselves at a later date, such as weakening of the building’s structure due to wind battering & buffeting, and hidden water intrusion behind building envelopes forced in at seams and wall penetrations. There can also be HVAC damper, duct work and elevator shaft damage that can go unnoticed until it’s too late. Doors and windows can seem unharmed until they start leaking at the next rain event. There’s a wind scale that explains which types of hurricanes do the most damage, from category 1 (very dangerous) to category 5 (catastrophic damage will occur and the whole area may be uninhabitable for days if not longer, not to be confused with category 4 when catastrophic damage may occur). And while not as powerful as hurricanes, tropical storms can be incredibly destructive, so don’t discount the need for hurricane preparation if one is headed your way. In fact, category 4 or 5 hurricanes don’t just destroy the areas they hit, they’ve been proven to lower production and increase unemployment in the United States. The effects of hurricanes make them one of the most difficult – but essential – natural disasters to plan for and they can cause more damage than earthquakes, wildfires, or tornadoes. In fact, while both involve extremely high winds, hurricanes are considered more risky and have more potential for long term property damage than tornadoes because of the flooding that can cause long term issues and make it impossible to return to for long periods of time. Some of the costliest hurricanes were Katrina, Harvey, Maria, and Sandy (although the total costs of hurricane Florence are still to be determined). The damages caused by these hurricanes number in the millions if not billions – but if you live in a hurricane zone, don’t be frightened by these numbers – use them as motivation to prepare well and get your insurance, documentation, and plans in order, and that includes learning more about what public adjusters do and how they can help deal with insurance claims in the aftermath of a hurricane.

Being Prepared for a Hurricane

It’s estimated that 1.2 billion Americans live in coastal areas at risk of hurricane damage, so if you live in one of these areas, it’s essential to be prepared before disaster strikes. Of course, this includes knowing when to do when you are directly in the path of an incoming hurricane or tropical storm, but the further ahead you can plan the better the final outcome will be. Understanding how and when to evacuate, stocking up on supplies (including what you need to prepare your property, such as plywood boards for the windows), and more is absolutely essential. Securing the outside of your property and moving any vehicles indoors if possible is also key. Another more advanced hurricane preparation technique is to document everything in your house before anything happens to it. Fortunately, that’s relatively easy to do with a smartphone – just walk through your house or other buildings you may own and take video and detailed pictures of everything (interior and exterior). This can extend to vehicles and other assets as well; anything and everything that could be damaged by a hurricane should be documented. It’s better to be on the side of caution in this regard – you can never have too much documentation. Be sure to scan any important documents too. And if you have to evacuate because of hurricane, make sure you take the hard drive or flash drive the documentation is on with you, and back it up in the cloud (Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud storage) as well. Documenting everything now will save you a lot of trouble and hardship in the long run, and make the job easier for you and your public adjuster to deal with your insurance company in the future. In fact, not documenting can cost you hundreds and thousands of dollars – so there’s no reason not to do your due diligence long before a hurricane hits. Take into account that insurance companies have different policies for “named” storms. Be aware that the federal government pays up to 60% for hurricane damage via FEMA, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the state and local governments may assist as well. While that’s helpful, this aid may take a long to arrive and it leaves you and your insurance company to come up with the rest. And that is easier said than done, which is why you should be familiar with what a public adjuster does and have the contact information for yours on hand before a hurricane strikes.

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