< Return to the Resources Main Page

Hurricane Preparation

Reducing Hurricane Risk

The coastal area from Texas to Maine is home to tens of millions of people with $10 trillion worth of insured property that is exposed to the threat of hurricanes. Building science research has identified the areas of a home most vulnerable during hurricanes. This brochure provides guidance for strengthening these areas, which will lead to reduced risk of damage and fewer repairs.

[ A ] Gable Ends

Overhangs – If greater than 12-in. wide, overhang framing members often need to have the connections improved to the wall framing below using metal connectors. Gable overhang panels should not be perforated (vented) in order to reduce wind-driven water intrusion.

Gable End Vertical Face – make sure the vertical face of the gable end has structural sheathing attached to prevent it from being
blown off in high winds.

Bracing the Gable Wall – Frequently it is necessary to improve the strength of the gable end wall structure to horizontal wind by adding bracing and strengthening connections.

[ B ] Gable End Vents

If vents are present in the gable end wall for attic ventilation, steps should be taken to cover the vents before a storm hits to keep large quantities of water from being driven into the attic. Use plywood or other flat sheet shutters to seal the opening or consider replacing existing vents with a product rated for resistance to wind-driven rain.

[ C ] Off-ridge Vents

Consider replacing any off-ridge vents not rated for compliance with TAS 100 (A), a high wind and wind-driven rain resistance test; consult a reputable roofer and ask for products that meet TAS 100(A).

[ D ] Ridge Vents

Ridge vents are the last thing installed when the roof covering is put on so they can be easily replaced. Choose vents rated for water intrusion resistance in high winds; look for products that meet TAS 100(A). Install in accordance with manufacturer’s high wind installation requirements.

[ E ] Roofs

When having new roofing installed choose a high wind rated system. When re-roofing:

1. Strip off existing material down to the roof sheathing.

2. Replace any damaged or decaying sheathing.

3. Re-nail the roof sheathing over the entire roof by adding 8d ring shank nails (visit www.DisasterSafety.org/hurricane for additional guidance).

4. Seal the roof deck with a qualified system and install appropriate wind resistant underlayment.

5. Install a high-wind rated roof cover.

If not replacing the roof, consider strengthening and sealing the roof from inside the attic using closed-cell polyurethane foam adhesive.

[ F ] Garage Doors

If the garage door has windows, it needs to be protected against wind borne debris. If the door itself is not impact rated, the entire garage door opening can be protected using a removable shutter system or the existing door can be replaced with an impact and design pressure-rated door. Consult your local building department to ensure compliance.

If the garage door does not have windows, look for a sticker that indicates the design pressure rating of the garage door. Confirm with the local building department the door is compliant with local requirements. If the design pressure is not adequate, consider replacing the door with one that has the proper design pressure rating or is pressure and impact rated.

[ G ] Entry Doors

If doors are not impact rated, protect with a removable impact-rated shutter product that has permanent anchors. Keep at least one protected entry door operable - for unimpeded entry and exit - from inside the home.

[ H ] Soffits

Check the condition and width of the overhang (perpendicular to the wall) of aluminum or vinyl soffit covers. Replace panels and fasteners that are corroded. Panels that are greater than 12-in wide perpendicular to the wall generally need to have a wood support near the middle of the panel.

Porch & Carport Roofs

Have the posts and the connections at the top and bottom of the posts checked to ensure that the porch or carport is anchored to the foundation. If needed, install adequately rated metal connectors to connect the roof to the beam, the beam to the column and the column to the structure below.

[ I ] Windows

If windows are not impact rated, protect with a removable impact-rated shutter product with permanent anchors installed into the structure before severe weather threatens.

Sliding Glass Doors

Like the other openings in the home, these should be protected from wind-borne debris with qualified impact rated systems.

This valuable information is brought to you in partnership of SafePoint Insurance and the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety - 4775 E. Fowler Avenue, Tampa, FL 33617 - DisasterSafety.org

Hurricane Preparedness Tips

Before a Hurricane

  • Build an emergency kit: Emergency Kit Checklist
  • Know your property’s elevation and if the land is prone to flood.
  • Learn your community’s evacuation routes. Determine where you would go and how you would get there if you need to evacuate.
  • Develop a family communication plan in case you become separated.
  • Secure your property and bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.
  • Charge cell phones and electronic devices
  • If you have a boat, determine how and where you will secure it.
  • Cover all windows with storm shutters or plywood. Do not tape windows and/or glass doors. Taping glass will not prevent breakage.
  • Be sure all trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed.
  • Clear loose and clogged gutters and downspouts.
  • If possible, install a generator. Keep extra gasoline and oil.

During a Hurricane

  • Listen to the radio or TV for information
  • Turn off utilities and propane tanks. Turn refrigerator and freezer thermostats to the coldest setting and keep the doors closed.
  • Except for serious emergencies, do not use your phone.
  • If possible, moor your boat.
  • Ensure water supply for sanitary purposes, such as cleaning and flushing toilets.
  • Fill bathtubs and other larger containers with water.
  • If you are ordered to evacuate, use your evacuation plan.
  • If you are unable to evacuate, stay indoors and away from windows and glass doors.
  • Close all interior doors and secure and brace external doors.
  • Keep curtains and blinds closed.
  • Take refuge in a small interior room closet or hallway or on the lowest level if you are in a multi-level home or building.
  • Avoid elevators.

After a Hurricane

  • Continue listening to the TV (if you are able to do so) or radio for the latest updates
  • Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding
  • Use your family communication plan to contact family members if you have become separated (the American Red Cross maintains a database to help find family members. Contact the local American Red Cross chapter where you are staying for information – Do NOT contact the chapter in the disaster area.
  • If you had to evacuate, only return home when officials have advised that it is safe.
  • If you cannot return home and have immediate shelter needs, text SHELTER + your zip to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelters in your area. FEMA can also help with longer term shelter needs and has several types of assistance, including services and grants to help people repair their homes and find replacement housing.
  • Drive only if necessary. If you must drive, watch for fallen debris, downed electrical wires, etc. Report downed lines immediately to the power company.
  • Do not enter any building that smells of gas or if there are floodwaters around the building.
  • Inspect your home for damage. If any, take pictures of the building and contents.
  • Do NOT use candles, use battery powered flashlights. NOTE: The flashlight should be turned on BEFORE entering the building – the battery may produce a spark that could ignite leaking gas, if present.
  • Keep your pets under your direct control and watch them closely. Look out for wild animals, especially poisonous snakes.
  • Do not drink or prepare food with tap water until you are sure it is not contaminated.
  • Check refrigerated food for
    spoilage – if in doubt, throw it out.
  • Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
  • Never use a generator inside your home, garage, crawlspace, shed or other similar area even when opening doors and windows for ventilation. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these areas and can linger for hours, even after the generator has been shut off.

This valuable information is brought to you in partnership of SafePoint Insurance and the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety - 4775 E. Fowler Avenue, Tampa, FL 33617 - DisasterSafety.org



As you make plans to rebuild or repair your home, ask your contractor, your insurance adjuster or your local home improvement store about features you might include that would help make your home better able to resist natural disasters common in your area.


Homeowners insurance policies typically provide coverage for the dwelling, personal property and other expenses related to the loss, such as temporary housing. Your insurance company representatives have training and experience in helping homeowners recover from disasters and good advice to help the recovery process go smoothly. Most of the advice given here is aimed at helping to start that process.


Contact your insurance agent or broker or insurance company as soon as you can to report how, when and where the damage occurred. Provide a general description of the damage, and, if possible, have your policy number available. Make a note of the claim adjuster’s name, telephone number and schedule as soon as you have them.


Always be careful before entering a damaged building. If your property has sustained serious structural damage or if there are any doubts about its safety, contact local government officials to determine the status of your house before entering. Local officials worried about safety also could order people to stay out of the building. Report downed power lines or gas leaks to the utility company. Keep electricity off if the house has been flooded. Never turn electricity on or off while standing in water. Rely on professionals to restore your utilities.


Take reasonable steps to protect your property from further damage. This could include boarding up windows, putting a tarp on the roof, and salvaging undamaged items. Check with your insurance company to see what they will pay for when protecting property.


If possible, keep damaged items or portions of these items until the claim adjuster has visited your home. Consider photographing or videotaping the damage to provide further documentation to support your claim. Prepare a list of damaged or lost items for your adjuster, and, if available, give the adjuster receipts for those items. Preparing a home inventory, including room-by-room list of contents with photos, before a disaster strikes will help you keep track of items that have been lost or damaged.


If you cannot live in your home while repairs are being made, keep records of all additional expenses incurred as a result of relocating. Most homeowners insurance policies provide coverage for additional living expenses.


After your insurance company has been notified of your claim, the company must send you the necessary claim forms within a certain number of days. (The time period varies by state.) Fill out and return the forms as soon as possible. If you do not understand the claim process, be sure to ask for a thorough explanation.

A claim adjuster may want to inspect the damage to your home and personal property. If you cannot live in your home and/or need to purchase clothing or other necessities immediately, your insurance company will most likely issue an immediate advance. The first check is usually an advance against the total settlement amount. It is not the final payment. As agreements are reached on the value of damaged property, the insurer will issue additional checks. If you have any questions, ask the claim adjuster.


If you have a mortgage on your house, the check for repairs to the dwelling will usually be made out to both you and the mortgage lender. This means the mortgage company or bank will have to endorse the check. Lenders generally put the money in an escrow account and pay for the repairs as the work is completed. Be sure to contact your mortgage lender beforehand to discuss the contractor’s bid and other details. Your mortgage company may want to inspect the finished job before making the final payment to the contractor.


The following are questions that people frequently ask their insurance representatives after a major loss due to disaster. You may want to have this list when you first contact your insurer to avoid multiple follow-up calls.

  • What does my insurance policy cover?
  • When can I expect to see my adjuster?
  • How large is my deductible? (The deductible is the amount of loss you agree to pay yourself when you buy a policy.)
  • Should I contact contractors to get repair or rebuilding estimates, or will the insurance company do that?
  • If I cannot live in my house, will the insurance company pay for me to stay in a hotel or rent an apartment? What about meals, clothing and other personal items? How much may I spend?
  • If I decide not to replace some items that were destroyed or lost, will my insurance still pay for them?
  • Will my homeowners policy or automobile policy pay for vehicles that were parked in my garage and damaged?
  • Will my policy pay to replace trees and shrubs that were lost as a result of the disaster?
  • How long will it take to process my claim?



    Contact your local Red Cross chapter for publications on disaster planning for homeowners. The Red Cross also offers disaster relief assistance and emergency training.


    (800) 480-2520 FEMA produces many publications that can be helpful to homeowners. You may obtain a catalog at the above number. Most of the publications are free.

This valuable information is brought to you in partnership of SafePoint Insurance and the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety - 4775 E. Fowler Avenue, Tampa, FL 33617 - DisasterSafety.org

Unlicensed Contractors

There are many concerns with the use of unlicensed contractors which ultimately affect you, the consumer. Hiring an unlicensed contractor is a choice made by you, therefore you are held accountable for all outcomes associated with the contractor’s work. Using an unlicensed contractor often leads to unsafe and hazardous construction and additional costs.

The use of an unlicensed contractor may yield the following problems:

Inability to Receive Inspections

In order to apply for a building permit from any building department, a contractor must have a valid license. Failing to get required permits will result in jobs being performed without inspections. Such unauthorized construction leaves you with no guarantee as to whether the construction was performed correctly and is safe.

Failure to Meet Florida Building Code Standards

Unlicensed contractors can’t apply for a building permit therefore their construction work cannot be reviewed or inspected. This eliminates the opportunity to ensure that the work meets Florida Building Code (FBC) requirements. Failure to meet FBC requirements may result in unsafe and hazardous conditions.

Substandard Workmanship

As unlicensed contractors do not go through the process of getting a license, they do not know required construction standards which are understood by licensed contractors. This leads to shoddy and substandard workmanship. The review of construction plans and inspections by building departments in your County provides that work has been performed correctly and meets the standards of the Florida Building Code.

Further Cost to You

The work of unlicensed contractors is often substandard and ultimately leads to costly repairs and corrections that require services of a licensed contractor. You may pay more money for the job than if you had initially hired a licensed contractor.

Fraud and Exploitation

The continued hiring of unlicensed contractors encourages ”roving” unlicensed contractors who are involved in illicit construction practices. These contractors embark on work throughout the county, often taking money for jobs that are never started, not completed or are poorly constructed. Ultimately, you incur the additional expense for such activities.

Consumer Liability

You are responsible for the hiring of a contractor. Consequently, you are responsible for any damages and injuries incurred on the job site since unlicensed contractors often do not have general liability and workers’ compensation insurance.

Legal Action Against the Consumer

Since you are held responsible for hiring an unlicensed contractor, you run the risk of being involved in legal action. This legal action may involve lawsuits from various parties due to the unauthorized construction work, thus incurring further cost.

Code Enforcement Fines

Hiring an unlicensed contractor violates Florida Building Code requirements. This may subject you to fines and the possibility of facing a quasi-judicial hearing in front of a Hearing Officer.

This valuable information is brought to you in partnership of SafePoint Insurance and the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety - 4775 E. Fowler Avenue, Tampa, FL 33617 - DisasterSafety.org

Customer Service

Phone: 877-858-7445
Fax: 813-906-6474


Safepoint Insurance Company
P.O. BOX 292547
Tampa, FL 33687

Overnight Mail

Safepoint Insurance Company
8761 N 56th Street
Box 292547
Tampa, FL 33617