Hurricane season is here, but data shows few homeowners are prepared

Aly J. Yale
The Mortgage Reports contributor

Homeowners lag behind on hurricane prep 

It might be the heart of hurricane season, but according to new data, homeowners are woefully underprepared. In fact, one recent study shows that almost half of homeowners in hurricane-prone states haven’t made any preparations whatsoever. 

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How prepared are you?

According to a new study from ValuePenguin, 77 percent of homeowners in hurricane-heavy states said they “felt prepared” for hurricane season. The catch? Only about half of them had actually started preparations.

To make matters worse, the results show that homeowners drastically underestimate both the frequency of hurricanes and the damage they cause. 

Natural disasters are up, but Americans are unprepared

More than half estimate that hurricanes result in about $10,000 in repairs. According to the National Flood Insurance Program, the average homeowner incurs about $91,000 in damages when impacted by a hurricane.

As a result, homeowners are also unsure of how much insurance coverage they need to protect themselves. In the highest-risk states for hurricanes, 45 percent said they didn’t know how much insurance to get.

As Chris Moon, senior research analyst at ValuePenguin, explains, “Part of this uncertainty may be due to confusion about what situations are and aren’t covered. Protection from flooding, for instance, is almost never part of your standard home insurance and usually requires the purchase of a separate flood insurance policy. Wind and hail, on the other hand, are usually included in standard coverage. If you own property in a state with seasonal hurricanes, understanding the details of your individual policy is the best way to ensure that you can weather the storm.”

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Risk and reluctance

Homeowners also doubt the accuracy of weather professionals when it comes to hurricane severity. Almost 40 percent said these experts “exaggerate the risk level of incoming hurricanes.”

On top of this, most aren’t willing to evacuate due to a hurricane unless it’s made mandatory by their local government. About 10 percent said they wouldn’t evacuate at all.  This could be for several reasons, according to Moon. 

“Reluctance to evacuate may not just be due to skepticism toward weather reporting,” Moon said. “The added cost of room and board in an evacuation may make people reluctant to leave even when ordered to do so.”

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