Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30 in 2023. This is when severe storms can create terrible weather and destroy whatever is in their path. They can damage your home, cars, and other property. You may have to fight with your homeowner's insurance to get coverage and deal with other financial fallout from the hurricane.
We'll take a look at when a storm becomes a hurricane, what can happen, and how you can prepare. You can follow a few simple tips to ensure you are ready for this hurricane season.
A hurricane is a type of tropical storm, but it must meet certain requirements before it meets the definition of a hurricane. A tropical storm becomes a hurricane when it reaches a constant speed of 74 miles per hour or higher. In most hurricanes, the eye of the storm ranges from between 20 to 30 miles wide. The entire storm could extend over 400 miles.
Hurricanes can last two weeks or more when over open water and can be devastating when they make landfall. As Gulf of Mexico residents know, many of these storms pick up speed and power over the gulf's warm waters. When they land, many have seen firsthand the devastation they can create.
Hurricanes are categorized by their severity along the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Hurricanes are rated on a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being the least severe hurricane.
- Category 1: A category one hurricane has winds between 74 to 95 mph. These winds can produce damage to susceptible structures and can damage trees. This storm can do extensive damage to power lines and poles.
- Category 2: A category two hurricane has winds between 96 to 110 mph. Even well-constructed homes could sustain significant damage in these storms. Power could be out for several days to several weeks.
- Category 3: A category three hurricane has winds between 111 to 129 mph. This can cause structural damage to your home, decking, and roof. Trees will likely block roads, and basic utilities such as water and electricity may be unavailable for an extended time.
- Category 4: A category four hurricane has winds between 130 to 156 mph. These winds can rip roofs off well-constructed homes and destroy entire structures. Power outages could last weeks to months.
- Category 5: A category five hurricane has winds of 157 mph or higher. This extremely severe storm will damage or destroy a high percentage of homes. Many areas will become uninhabitable for weeks or months from the resulting damage.
Even a category one storm can severely impact your home, work, and other aspects of your life. This means it is important to prepare for hurricane season if you live near the Gulf of Mexico.
Dealing With Damage to Your Home
Hurricanes can do relatively minor damage or destroy your home, depending on the severity of the storm and the construction of your house. House damage after a hurricane commonly includes:
- Downed trees or branches
- Destruction of landscaping
- Shingle damage
- Hail damage
- Holes in the roof
- Leaks, flooding, and other water damage
- Broken windows
- Damage to structures such as a porch or deck
- Damage or destruction of walls
- Loss of your home
Dealing With Homeowner's Insurance Companies
After everything you've been through, you could also face issues when dealing with your homeowner's insurance company. This can be a very frustrating experience. You are already dealing with the stress of the damage to your home, lost time at work, or even injuries from the storm. The last thing you need is to fight with your insurance company about much-needed repairs.
What your homeowner's insurance covers will depend on your policy. For example, most insurance policies cover wind damage, flooding, and much more. The coverage should help pay for necessary repairs, often subject to a deductible you must cover. You may even be entitled to loss of use coverage if you are temporarily unable to live in your home.
In hurricane-prone areas, your insurance might include a separate deductible or other policies related to hurricanes. These apply only to hurricane damage, but insurance companies often use these provisions to avoid payment or reduce what they owe.
Dealing with an insurance company can be difficult. It may try to deny coverage altogether or reject certain parts of your claim to save money. Be persistent and document everything to help handle your insurance company. If your homeowner's insurance company continues to deny coverage it owes, you may need to enlist help from a qualified attorney to fight for your rights.
Tips to Prepare for a Hurricane
Follow these tips to prepare for a hurricane and help deal with the aftermath:
- Create a plan the entire family knows and practices.
- Practice escape routes and procedures.
- Prepare hurricane supplies such as water, food, first aid, and much more.
- Follow official advice on when to evacuate.
- Secure loose furniture and other outdoor objects.
- Secure your car in a garage or protective cover if possible.
- Call 911 if anyone is injured in the storm.
- Document any damage that occurs from the hurricane through pictures or videos.
- Promptly contact your insurance company after any hurricane damage.
For even more helpful tips, consult the 2023 Hurricane Preparedness Guide from the National Weather Service. It contains many helpful details about hurricanes and how you can stay prepared.
Be Ready for Hurricane Season
By following the tips above, you can ensure you are ready for this and future hurricane seasons. Protect your health and safety first, but fight hard to protect your property rights as well. Hurricanes can do immense damage to your home, but you have the right to hold your homeowner's insurance company to its agreement.
- State of Louisiana Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. Hurricane Definition.
- National Hurricane Center and Central Pacific Hurricane Center. Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
- HCA Healthcare | Gulf Coast Division. How Should I Prepare for a Hurricane?
- National Weather Service. 2023 Hurricane Preparedness Guide.