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During Hurricane Season, an Ounce of Prevention Could Lead to Significant Savings

During Hurricane Season, an Ounce of Prevention Could Lead to Significant Savings

By Robert Fischer 
Policy Analyst, Casualty Practice Council 

The season for the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes may have ended in May after falling to the New York Rangers in the playoffs, but a much more dangerous hurricane season begins this month—one that threatens lives and property, and increasingly, the solvency of insurers themselves. 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting an above-normal 2024 Atlantic hurricane season, forecasting a range of 17 to 25 total named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher). Of those, eight to 13 are forecast to become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including four to seven major hurricanes (category 3, 4, or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher).  

2024 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook

What Is a Hurricane?  

A hurricane is a powerful tropical cyclone, or rotating storm, that originates in the Atlantic Ocean between June and November. Tropical cyclones come in three categories, based on their maximum sustained wind speed—tropical depression, tropical storm, and hurricane. Hurricanes, the strongest tropical cyclones, come in five different levels of severity based on projected wind speed.  

Anyone who has ever spent time on the East or Gulf coasts of the United States should be familiar with a hurricane even if they don’t live right on the beach. Hurricanes lose their strength as they go over colder ocean water or land, but even those who live a little farther inland can get hammered by a hurricane as it dies down.  

Hurricane Hazards  

One of the biggest hazards that can be expected in the path of a hurricane is flooding. A storm surge, which occurs when the wind from the hurricane pulls the water to shore, causes major floods along the coasts, causing damage to roads, property, and lives. You are not safe from flooding if you are farther inland, though. Depending on the size and speed of a hurricane, these storms can flood populous areas simply from the hours of heavy rain and debris that block proper drainage.  

The Academy has written much on flooding in the Flood Monograph, which lays out the history and public policy and insurance considerations of the National Flood Insurance Program. It also contains hurricane data through 2019.  

Mitigation and Preparation 

A study from the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration found that for every $1 spent on natural hazard mitigation grants, up to $6 can be saved on future storm damage. Millions of dollars are saved every year thanks to mitigation efforts, but more must still be done—there have been over 60 billion-dollar storms since 2020. Those costs have led some insurers to pull out of Florida and other states, leaving property owners with minimal choices and soaring insurance bills. 

While the most money saved can be done on the community level or through updating building codes in high-risk areas, there are many things an individual can do to prepare their home and property before a storm. According to NOAA, property owners in moderate- to high-risk flood zones can lower insurance premiums by about $1,000 per year by raising their house three feet above the expected flood rise level. While a home improvement project on the foundation of a home is expensive, there are Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) programs available to those in high-risk zones to help offset the costs. 

What about when a storm is on its way to you? The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes operates a webpage that will tell you everything you can possibly do to mitigate your property damage based on your location. Also, check to make sure your homeowner’s insurance will cover the types of damage common from a hurricane. If you are in an area with a higher flood risk, you should consider flood insurance, as flooding is not covered by homeowner’s insurance policies.  

Resources for further reading:
NOAA All About Hurricanes
NOAA Hurricane Preparedness
NOAA Take Action Against Hurricanes
NOAA Hazard Mitigation Fact Sheet
FEMA Flood Map Service Center
FEMA Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration Fact Sheet

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