Across the U.S. this year, homeowners, businesses, and entire communities have been impacted by severe weather conditions. From wildfires and droughts to hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes, it seems like headline-making weather events are on the rise across the country. For homeowners, the purchase of a house is one of the biggest long-term investments of our lifetime. That’s why it is so important to protect that investment with the purchase of homeowner’s insurance, along with flood and other disaster-related insurance coverage. In addition, owners can help protect their homes from weather-related damages and reduce the costly effects of extreme weather conditions by adding professional floodproofing to the basement and practicing good home maintenance.
Costly weather conditions impact U.S. homeowners from coast to coast
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), there were more than 75 severe weather events over the past 10 years that caused extensive property and other damages totaling more than $1 billion each. These costly weather events included:
- Seven wildfires
- 12 hurricanes
- 18 floods
- Eight extreme droughts
- Six major winter storms
The immediate impact from each of these billion-dollar storms may have been different for residents across the country, but one thing they had in common was widespread devastation. Most of the 75 extreme storms impacted residents of multiple states at once. For example, the 2020 drought has affected more than half of the states in the U.S. Whether the storms are named and easy to remember, like Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Florence, or not, each one is an example of how communities and homeowners can be impacted by extreme weather. Before an emergency occurs, we can all do more to prepare and help reduce the impacts on our families, our wallets, and our lives.
Homeowners see costly weather-related damages from high winds, hail and floods
If homeowners haven’t experienced an extreme weather event for themselves, it can be hard to imagine just how expensive the damages can be. In fact, weather-related damage is the number one cause of homeowner’s insurance policy filings in the U.S, according to Claims Journal. Weather conditions vary from state to state, but the most common storm conditions in the U.S. that cause damage are high winds, floods, hail, and lightning. Lightning storms are most costly when they spark fires, either in an individual home or a wildfire that can impact multiple homes at once.
High winds from hurricanes, blizzards, or tornadoes can also be costly for homeowners. From downed trees to broken windows and roof destruction, high winds can cause expensive home repairs. In addition, hailstorms cause thousands of dollars in roof, window, and yard damages each year – not to mention to cars parked in the open during a storm. More than 20% of homeowner’s insurance claims from 2006-2016 were wind-related, according to Travelers Insurance, Inc.
Flooding is one of the most costly and long-term weather-related damages that affect homeowners. That’s because the damage doesn’t stop once the water recedes. Most homeowners impacted by major floods in the U.S. need costly repairs related to mold and mildew created by the flood. Floods also impact both a home’s interior and exterior and can damage the foundation, causing costly repairs and even making homes unsafe to enter.
Planning for extreme weather today
Before an emergency occurs, it’s important to understand what common extreme weather events occur in your area so you can protect your home and family. Whether you live on a coast impacted by hurricanes, in an area commonly impacted by flood conditions, or somewhere experiencing wildfire danger – how you plan for emergencies should be conditioned by your area’s history and recent events.
For homeowners with a basement, flooding is a major concern. Even if a home is situated above historic flood conditions, a major storm can cause water damage. That’s why installing a sump pump in the basement with a backup battery in case of a power outage is important. In addition, professional waterproofing and crawl space encapsulation can help insulate your home from flooding and water damage, reduce pests and moisture, and protect the home’s foundation.
Annual home maintenance can save you from costly weather-related repairs
To protect against high winds and hail damage, ensure even minor damage to a home’s roof is fixed quickly before another event occurs. Doors and windows should be updated with well-fitting replacements to protect against future storm damage. In addition, ensure the gutters are cleaned and emptied each season, as well as outdoor drains. Storm windows or hurricane shutters can be added to homes in areas more commonly impacted by major weather events to reduce costly damages to windows, furnishings, and interiors.
If an area is commonly impacted by wildfires, adding fire breaks to the yard and planting fire-resistant shrubs and plants is a good idea. Adding gravel or pavers around the home and pruning back trees and shrubs a few feet away from the home can help stop a wildfire in its tracks. Finally, all homeowners should ensure their smoke detectors are installed correctly and tested frequently.
Homeowners who prepare for extreme weather events before they occur, with regular home maintenance, fixing small problems before they become big ones, and adding flood and fire protection both indoors and out, can reduce costly damages. For a free home inspection to identify ways you can weather-proof your home today, contact local basement, foundation, and crawl space experts for a free inspection and repair estimate.