We sing songs about how, in the wintertime, the weather outside is frightful. But these autumn months hold what may be the most frightening weather there is: Hurricanes.
Hurricane season lasts all the way through November, and on the East Coast, it’s as vital to be hurricane-ready as it is to be earthquake-ready on the West Coast. Tens of millions of Americans live, work and raise families where a massive Atlantic hurricane could strike, including all of us here in Loudoun County. With unrelenting winds, punishing rains and destructive flooding, it pays to prepare.
Ever since names like Hugo, Isabel, Sandy and now Matthew have become infamous around here, we at Loudoun Insurance Group have been proactively advising our clients on effective hurricane preparedness. A few steps can go a long way toward minimizing your losses and protecting your assets. I want to share this advice with the public at large, because being hurricane-ready is a good idea for everyone.
Make certain your family is totally protected.
What will your homeowner’s policy cover and not cover? Temporary repairs? Costs to rebuild? Is separate flood insurance recommended? Would an umbrella policy cover gaps in your home’s insurance protection? The answers to these questions are individualized to your circumstances, so a conversation with your agent – long before that first breeze – is highly recommended.
Keep an updated home inventory.
Claims tend to be processed significantly faster, even twice as fast, when the insured has an updated home inventory on file. Make an accurate itemized record of your home’s contents, including furniture, appliances, collectibles, electronics, jewelry, sports equipment, art and anything of value. Keep this document updated as needed. You’ll be very glad you have it if disaster strikes…or when.
Batten down the hatches.
Invest in needed repairs to your home to strengthen it against high winds and torrential rains. Secure and clean gutters, shutters, downspouts and roof tiles, and nail down or replace loose boards and shingles. Trim all dead or broken tree branches, wherever they may be. Before any high winds hit, relocate unsecured objects like grills, bicycles, plant boxes and lawn furniture indoors to prevent them from going flying.
Keep an eye on the sky.
Be aware of hurricane activity all season long (June through November). Watch the weather, download a weather app, turn on a weather radio and subscribe to Loudoun County’s alert system at www.loudoun.gov/alert. Being armed with information is the best defense against the potentially life-changing chaos of a hurricane.
Plan an escape route or two.
Wherever you live in Loudoun, become familiar with at least two westward driving routes to take you farther inland. Visit the county’s website on hurricane preparedness at www.loudoun.gov/hurricane.
Fido and Mittens are family too.
In extreme emergencies, pet shelters are often set up to help your pet get through the crisis. Some hotels will also allow pets in cases of temporary emergency relocation. Do a little advance research to determine how best to keep your furry friends safe.
Stock up and save.
If you ever need to grab and go, pack a bag of emergency supplies including a first-aid kit, unexpired medicines and a week’s worth of non-perishable food items for the whole family (seniors, adults, kids and pets). You’ll also need a battery-powered radio, battery-powered flashlights and extra batteries. Collect the contact information of family, friends, fire and police departments and your insurance agent, both on paper and on your mobile phone.
If a hurricane is coming, you should be going.
Your family is prepared and the storm is coming. Get the jump on any evacuation order by moving inland or to higher ground before traffic congestion sets in. Secure your property, grab your vital belongings and pre-made emergency kit and head out of harm’s way.
We suggest these preventive measures in order to help you protect your family to the utmost. Whenever a hurricane comes to visit us here in Loudoun, together we’ll help each other get through with greater safety and security.
Loudoun Insurance Group, LLC
5 Wirt Street SW #300
Leesburg, Virginia 20175
Our dedicated team of insurance professionals works with individuals, families, and businesses. We spend time understanding their insurance needs, evaluating their current plans, and then helping them achieve the proper coverage for protecting their assets and managing risk.