Last year’s hurricane season left a trail of chaos and destruction not seen in the United States and Caribbean in decades. Nearly a year later, many residents of the Southern U.S. and Puerto Rico are just beginning to get their lives back to normal.
While the impending hurricane season hovers above, weather experts project that the 2018 season will be consistent with the 30-year average in terms of the number of tropical storms and named hurricanes forecasted. Sadly, last year’s season was also projected along similar lines, yet it turned out to be one of the most devastating seasons in U.S. history. For that reason, Sea Tow and Sea Insure are urging boaters to be prepared for every possible outcome in 2018.
“Preparation is key,” said Chris McKinnon, Program Manager at Sea Insure. “Luckily, many boaters in Florida knew what to do and did a great job prepping before the storms rolled through. Because of that, we didn’t sustain nearly as many losses as we could have.”
Authorities estimate Hurricanes Harvey and Irma left as much as $380 billion worth of damage in their combined wakes, but McKinnon said those figures could have been much worse if it weren’t for the extensive preparation millions of Americans took prior to the storms. With yet another hurricane season just around the corner, McKinnon shared a few tips on how to best prepare for whatever 2018 might throw boaters’ way.
One of the most important things to do before the hurricane season starts is to conduct a thorough review of your insurance policy. Speak with your agent or carrier to help ensure you have the proper coverage and understand your deductibles.
“Many people are taken aback when they find out they don’t have coverage for things like wind damage,” McKinnon added. “Those things can’t be added at the last minute, so it’s important to make sure you have them included in your policy long before the first storm rolls in.”
A critical component of hurricane preparedness is having a detailed action plan laid out ahead of time. Know where you are going to transport your boat and how you will secure it. Insurance companies often require boaters to relocate their vessels once a storm is confirmed as imminent, and marinas fill up quickly. Check with your marina, storage facility or private dock owner to be sure your boat can remain there during a hurricane. If it can stay, know the procedure for securing not only your boat, but those docked around it. If your boat must move, secure your arrangements far in advance.
McKinnon also advises to record a visual inventory of anything on your boat that cannot be removed. Take photos and video of all electronics or other valuables and store all documents – including your insurance policy – in a secure place off the vessel.
Lastly, McKinnon urges boaters to closely monitor both local and national weather services, including NOAA Weather Radio and the National Weather Service’s National Hurricane Center. Be flexible, as storms often deviate from their projected paths. Have a Plan B ready in case your original plan is foiled at the last moment.
“Don’t wait until the last minute,” he concluded. “It can be the difference between coming out unscathed and losing everything.”
The 2018 hurricane season kicked off June 1st and runs through November 30th.