A hurricane is approaching. Are you ready or not?
Every year various research institutes and the NOAA release their predictions for the hurricane season. We know that even a single storm can cause devastating losses, as seen in 1992 when Hurricane Andrew struck Florida, causing an overall economic loss of US$ 87bn in today’s values. With Hurricane Florence, the first major storm of the 2018 season churning through the North Atlantic pointing at the east coast of the United States, there is no better time to prepare.
Homeowners may think hurricanes do not affect them because they do not live in coastal areas, but hurricane-related storms can reach far inland. For example, a storm that impacts the Gulf coast can continue northward to the mid-west or northeast states. Take Hurricane Ike in 2008, which caused significant damage in Ohio after making landfall on the TX/LA state line. As hurricanes move inland, they can spawn tornadic activity and flooding. So, you should not let your guard down just because you may not reside in a coastal state. Continue to monitor weather reports and take the necessary precautions to protect your family and property.
Knowing a hurricane’s structure is important. The eye is the “hole” at the center of the storm. In the eye, winds are light and skies are partly cloudy, or even clear. Contrary to how the phrase “eye of the storm” might sound, it’s typically pretty calm in this area. The eyewall is a ring of thunderstorms swirling around the eye, where winds are strongest and rain is heaviest. It can be the most destructive area of a hurricane. Finally, the rain bands are spiral bands of clouds, rain and thunderstorms that extend out from a hurricane’s eyewall and can stretch for hundreds of miles, sometimes containing tornadoes. And if that analysis doesn’t make the gravity of these storms real, just last year, in 2017, hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria reminded us of Mother Nature’s destructive force and the need for proper storm planning.
The alphabetical naming of storms alone indicates how active a hurricane season is. Since more than one hurricane may exist at the same time, names make it easier to keep track of and talk about these storms. They escalate very quickly too, starting as a tropical disturbance and growing into a tropical depression (an area of rotating thunderstorms with winds of 38 mph or less). Then, a tropical depression becomes a tropical storm once its winds reach 39 mph. And a tropical storm becomes a hurricane if its winds reach 74 mph.
What are the damage risks?
Culprits that cause the most damage:
– Winds topping 200 mph also leave a path of destruction to buildings.
– Even lower-category storms can cause dangerous flooding.
– Inland flooding can cause damages to homes and businesses that are far away from the coast.
– Tornadoes commonly form quickly once a storm hits the shore.
– Rip currents and rough seas are a huge issue both before and after hurricanes.
What tips can prepare you for these severe events?
– Stay tuned to the local weather news. Laptop computers and mobile devices should be completely charged with the ability to recharge if away from home.
– Ensure that you have a month’s worth of medication and first aid supplies.
– Have extra batteries, a flashlight, radios, and a hand crank charger for your phone.
– Fill up on a full tank of gas and get a few extra plastic gas cans for good measure because the pumps may be closed or empty.
– Have cash on hand in case ATMs flood or power goes out.
– Pack a week’s worth of pet food.
– If you do not need to evacuate, having a whole house generator is smart in the event of widespread power outages that can sometimes last several days. Unless your generator is equipped for natural gas, make sure to stockpile enough fuel to operate the generator for 3 to 5 days.
What can insurers like American Modern do for their customers before storms hit?
Flooding is the leading cause of damage from hurricanes and severe tropical storms, so informing your clients about a hurricane’s most serious damage risks is your number one obligation.
It is important to make sure you’re not only familiar with and prepared for the risks and damages associated with hurricanes, but also appropriately insured against the effects of these disastrous storms. After last year’s devastating hurricane season, courtesy of the storms Harvey, Irma, and Maria, we are hoping for quieter storms in the tropics this year. But if it gets boisterous, American Modern customers will have the plans in place to weather any storm.
We can’t prevent hurricanes. But we can make sure we are prepared and there to service the needs of our shared customers in the unfortunate event that they have to file a claim. It’s what we do.