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Majorie Parchment

Many of us are reeling from the devastation of Antigua and Barbuda’s and the region’s economies by the Covid 19 Pandemic… and when we thought it could not get any worse, early predictions are this year’s hurricane season will be an above active one.
The leading authority on hurricane forecasting, Colorado State University, has predicted that the 2021 hurricane season will see 18 named storms, 7 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes making landfall on the US coastline and the Caribbean. This compares with an average season of 14 named storms 7 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes. Last year was a record year in every respect specifically with a record of 30 named storms and 2 major hurricanes which developed late in the season in November. Thankfully, the region was spared any direct impact, but May marks the unofficial start of the hurricane season.
Experts have warned that all the indicators which contribute to the formation and development of hurricanes are present. These include warmer ocean temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea and the presence of the La Nina phase which results from activities in the Tropical Eastern and Central Pacific Oceans, and which help to promote the development of hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean. Some experts have indicated that while the La Nina effect will enter a neutral phase by summer, the overall picture is not favourable. It may be that we are seeing the making of another perfect storm. This is a good time to put plans in place to secure and protect your property.
t is never possible to predict this far ahead where a storm will make landfall however there is enough early warning that we should put our plans in place.
This brings me to the obvious question how do we protect our properties from hurricane damage? Is this even possible and is this expensive? Can I even afford this in these difficult times? Well think of the alternative; can you afford to lose the most important investment of your lifetime? For most of us, our home is without doubt that investment and you may be fortunate to have paid off your mortgage and so you have been going without insurance. A friend said to me recently, “once I change my roof to galvanise sheeting, I will not insure”. Let us not forget that a fire in your well-built home will be far more devastating than a hurricane and contrary to popular opinion, insurance without hurricane coverage is relatively inexpensive.

If you decide that you cannot afford hurricane insurance, there are some commonsense things you can afford to do. For example, have your roof inspected, look for any signs of loose screws or nails in you galvanise sheeting and reinforce them with minimum of 2-21/2 inch galvanise screws. It is particularly important that you reinforce your galvnise sheeting around the edges which is the first point of impact from hurricane winds. Invest in some sheets of treated plywood and some concrete screws and identify someone to assist you in the event of a hurricane warning and be prepared to take vulnerable items inside including your gas cylinder and external light fittings.
These are certain to be damaged or destroyed in a storm or hurricane and if you have insurance, this expense will either fall within your deductible or be excluded altogether.
For those who can afford to use insurance to transfer some of the risks of hurricane damage to your house, look for a company with a proven track record in settling its claims and ask for quotes from at least two different companies.
Empower yourself with the understanding that your insurance provider does not know anything about your house so before you begin to request insurance quotes do some homework. Start with knowing the square footage of your building, this is simply multiplying length by width. For example, a house of 50ft long and 30ft wide is 1,500 square feet in size. If you cannot afford a valuation, ask a builder who knows your property what the cost per square foot to rebuild your house. Most builders will give you a range from approximately $250.00 - $350 per square foot for an average house with reinforced concrete block walls and galvanise sheeting roof. If we assume that rebuilding will cost $300 per square foot, the approximate replacement cost would be $450,000.
Request an initial quotation with standard hurricane deductible which is 2% of the insured value, then request a discount for a higher deductible and if you have permanently installed shutters. This way you can realize the savings you deserve. Lastly, the later we get into the hurricane season the higher your premium is likely to be especially if the season starts off as a very active one like the 2020 season.

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