Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30. People who live in coastal areas especially must prepare for the storm season, but the effects of these ocean-borne storms may be felt far and wide. “Hurricanes are not just a coastal problem,” says Jeremy Edwards, press secretary for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). “Rain, wind, water, and even tornadoes could happen far inland from where a hurricane or tropical storm makes landfall.”
In addition to getting flashlights and stocking water and enough food to last a week, you’ll want to get your finances in order. “There’s nothing more important than having a disaster plan in place to protect you, your family, and your home,” says Jimmy Patronis, chief financial officer for the state of Florida.
Follow the experts’ advice for preparing financially for hurricane season.
Make sure your homeowner’s insurance has wind coverage
If you’ve recently moved to a hurricane-prone area, you may not realize this: There’s no such thing as “hurricane insurance.” Instead, you’ll want to ensure that your homeowner’s policy covers for “wind,” which is the main attribute of hurricanes that causes damage. Review the policy on your own, or call your insurance agent for policy details. Some insurance policies either partially or completely exclude wind damages.
Also, even if your policy offers wind coverage, you may need to pay a separate hurricane deductible that may be higher than your standard deductible, according to the Insurance Information Institute. A deductible is the amount of money you pay on an insurance claim before the insurance company will pay the remainder of the coverage—you want to ensure that your deductible is a sum you can afford to pay in the event you need to make a large insurance claim.
Consider flood coverage
Credit: Reviewed / Getty Images / JodiJacobson
FEMA offers several resources before and after a flood occurs, from cost estimation to flood maps.
Another detail you may not realize: Standard home insurance policies don’t include flood insurance. If you live in a home within a flood plain and that’s prone to hurricanes (which can drop a ton of rain in a short time period), you may wish to get a separate flood insurance policy for your home. That way you’ll be covered if heavy rains or storm surges cause floods in your local area.
FEMA offers a National Flood Insurance Program and flood insurance is also available in the private insurance market. You’ll have to shop around to determine which policy works best for you, but note: Most flood insurance policies take 30 days to take effect, Patronis says.