For many people, their home is their most valuable financial asset. However, depending on where you live, you may overlook the risk of a natural disaster destroying your home. A recent study by ATTOM Data Solutions mapped the risk each county in the United States faces from a range of natural disasters, then compared the county’s risk factors to home prices. The study found that home prices seemed to indicate that people overlook risk of natural disasters in otherwise desirable counties.
Here’s how to keep your home protected, no matter how much you paid for it.
1. Get a homeowner insurance policy
Did you know that 95% of U.S. homeowners have some form of homeowners insurance? Yet 60% of them are underinsured. For example, a standard homeowners insurance policy provides coverage to repair or replace your home and its contents in the event of damage. In addition, you’re typically covered for living expenses if you need to find alternate lodging while your home is rebuilt.
2. Consider purchasing a home insurance rider
Adding a rider to your home insurance policy increases the flexibility of your insurance coverage. It allows you to add coverage for items and situations that are not typically included in a standard policy (expensive jewelry or art collections, and water damage to items in your home caused by situations like a sewage backup). You can also use a rider to add extra protection against things like mold, fungus, and even identity theft.
3. Add-on separate insurance policies
There are some natural disasters (like floods, landslides and earthquakes) that you need to have completely separate policies for. If you live in a high-risk zone for these types of natural disasters, you should invest in policies for them, in addition to your primary homeowner insurance. You should also prepare your home to prevent damage should these natural disasters occur.
4. Maintain the outside of your property
For floods: Homeowners living in flood-prone areas should keep the foundation moisture-constant to ensure that rainwater doesn’t percolate into the soil beneath the house. If foundation crawl spaces back up after a storm, consider fitting a backflow prevention valve with the assistance of a professional plumber.
For wildfires: Be sure to maintain your roof. Your roof is the most at-risk in a wildfire because of its size and orientation. Reduce or remove flammable vegetation around your home, use fewer flammable species, and clear all combustibles from your exterior space. In the defensible space, use noncombustible materials such as gravel, brick, or concrete, which is fire-resistant.
For hurricanes: Cut weak branches and trees that could fall on your house, and keep shrubbery trimmed. Make sure exterior doors are hurricane proof, and have a minimum of three hinges and a dead bolt lock that is at least one inch long.
5. Maintain the inside of your property
For floods: Replace carpeting with tiles, which are more flood-resistant. Install flood vents in foundation walls, garages, and other enclosed areas to allow water to flow through, drain out, and lower the risk of structural damage. Vents can also help lower your insurance rate. Flood-resistant insulation and drywall will help minimize damage and can be easily cleaned and sanitized.
For earthquakes: Anchor top-heavy or large furniture, like bookshelves or wardrobes, to prevent them from falling over during an earthquake. If they can’t be anchored, move them to areas of the home where they are less likely to cause injuries if they fall. Secure large fixtures and electronics such as ceiling fans, picture frames, televisions, etc. Latch cabinets to prevent content from falling out and secure your water heaters, which are connected to both water and gas lines.
For hurricanes: Install hurricane shutters, which can better withstand heavy rains and strong winds. Store your valuables in a safe, and essential documents inside zip-top bags in watertight storage containers. Equip yourself with a stand-by electrical source such as a generator in case there is a power outage. Surge protectors can also offer protection to your electrical devices against unexpected voltage spikes.
In the unfortunate circumstance your home does become inhabitable due to damage from a natural disaster such as a hurricane or wildfire, ALE Solutions has your back. Our team will find you immediate temporary housing at a hotel while we look for a more permanent place for you to stay while your home is being fixed. Learn more about our services here.