There are some very good reasons for investing in storm and hurricane protection for your home, not the least of which is saving your life in the worst storms. For most homeowners, however, protecting your home from the damaging winds and rain of a hurricane is a matter of protecting your investment. Taking steps to protect your home from severe weather and other catastrophes can also reduce the premiums that you pay on your homeowners’ insurance. Here’s a quick rundown of storm protection and other safety items that may reduce the premiums on your homeowners insurance.
Hint for home sellers: up-to-date hurricane protection for your home is a great selling point for your home. Besides offering reassurance to home buyers, many of these home improvements offer reduced home insurance premiums – and that can be a very big attraction for a new home buyer.
Storm protection is at the top of the list in protecting your home from damage. While hurricanes are the source of the worst storm damage, the steps you take to protect your home from the punishing wind and rain of a hurricane will also protect your house from less severe weather.
Roof repairs and reinforcements
Loose shingles, especially at the edge of your roof, are a disaster waiting to happen. Often, when the wind catches the edge of a loose shingle and rips it free, more shingles follow. Check your roof carefully for loose shingles and leaks. Secure the shingles, and have leaks repaired immediately.
In addition, hurricane straps and clips can reinforce your roof’s connection to the rest of your house and prevent it from literally blowing off in the high winds that accompany a hurricane. There’s even a roof harness that fits straps over your roof and secures them to the foundation of your house, keeping your house’s “hat” solidly anchored.
Waterproof your home
Wherever possible, caulk around openings for cable wires, phone wires and other utilities into your home. All of them are entry points for water which could get between your walls and cause mold – a major health hazard for your family. Also check the soffits – the material that covers the underside of the roof overhang. High winds can drive rain nearly horizontally, and force is up under the overhang and into your house. Make sure that the soffit is securely attached to the roof overhang AND sealed against the house to prevent water from entering.
Of course, the biggest entry points for rain and wind into your home are the same ones that you use to get in and out – the doors and windows. Strong winds can exert hundreds of pounds of pressure both inward and outward on your doors and windows. Invest in storm shutters to cover all of the openings into your home, including garage doors, patio windows, windows and doors. There’s a variety of storm shutter types and styles on the market that will protect the openings of your home from impact and wind pressure, and most insurance companies discount premiums if you have them installed. Other very effective options include replacing windows with impact resistant glass, and using impact resistant polyurethane film on the interior of existing windows.
Inspect all shrubbery and trees around your home regularly to make sure that they are healthy and that there are no loose branches that can become projectile missiles in a high wind.
Reinforce outdoor structures
Storage sheds, cabanas, gazebos and carports can become airborne and lethal during a hurricane. Inspect porch roofs to be sure that they are securely anchored in place. If they’re not, have the anchors reinforced.
Free standing carports are actually less likely to take damage (and cause damage to the rest of the home) than attached carports. For both, the most important factor is how well the roof is anchored.
Aluminum screen enclosures
If you have an existing screen enclosure around your pool, inspect it and replace any rusted screws. Reinforce the anchorage of the columns to the concrete deck, and install diagonal bracing to help the structure withstand the force of the wind. If you’re rebuilding or replacing, consider using Armor Screen, which has proven to be one of the most effective hurricane protection options for not only screened enclosures, but as protection for windows, doors and other openings.
Like carports, these buildings are not built to withstand high winds. The best thing that you can do is anchor them more securely to the ground. If possible, build them on concrete slabs. If that’s not possible, you can literally tie the structure down using heavy duty screw anchors driven into the ground at all for corners and a rope harness over the building.
Air compressors, air conditioners, water heaters and pool equipment can be blown around in a hurricane, causing damage to the equipment, your house, the electrical hookups and the condenser lines. You can prevent a lot of that damage by anchoring the equipment securely to the house or to the ground using metal brackets, straps and screw anchors.
Most insurers offer premium discounts if your home was built after 1993 when stricter guidelines for hurricane safe building became the law. In addition, insurers may offer premium discounts for installing storm shutters, reinforcing roofs and installing hurricane straps and clips, and installing storm screens. Check with your insurer to see which improvements will net you a discount on your premium.