Weather experts have a way with words – from a polar vortex to a superstorm – and now, a “Godzilla El Nino.” Of course, forecasting is an imperfect science but if predictions hold… Texas could soon see some serious rainfall.
For now, most of Texas has been pretty dry so it may be the perfect time to make a few repairs and plans in preparation for potential downpours.
Kimberly Lankford is a contributing editor with Kiplinger. She joined the Standard to advise us on how to prioritize.
On what home repairs or fixes you should consider:
“It’s a great time to do things like trim trees, see if you need storm shutters. Storm shutters could actually get you a discount from your homeowners insurance company if you install the right kind. So think about some of these big things that you can do. And also talk with your insurance company up front — find out what kind of improvements you can make that can help protect your home but also get you a discount. For example, if you’re looking for big things like buying a generator, if you get an automatic standby generator — one that’s installed in your home and goes on automatically if the power goes down, you might get an insurance discount of 5 percent or more but you need to follow very specific instructions to be able to get that discount. So your insurance company is actually a great source to find out what things you can do and what’s going to save you money.”
On whether flood insurance is a good idea:
“Go to www.floodsmart.gov is the great first step to take because you can type in your address and it will tell you your risk of flooding and also tell you what your premiums would be. And the cost can vary a lot depending on your risk. Now, one really key thing — and this is why it’s great to think about this now rather than later — is there’s a 30-day waiting period before flood coverage goes into effect. So now is the time to take a look at that risk. A lot of times, when there are heavy rains, those are the types of damages that may not be covered under your insurance.”
On other good insurance plans:
“Another good thing is sewage backup coverage. This is very kind of nasty — but with flooding and even in areas that get a lot of snow and a lot of snow melt — a lot of times this gets backed up into your home and is not automatically covered under most homeowners insurance policies. But if you know to add the coverage, a lot of times it’s inexpensive — it can cost about $50 to $75 to add $10,000 to $20,000 of sewage backup coverage and is really really worthwhile in a situation like this where it’s high risk and it doesn’t cost a lot extra to add it but you just need to know to ask.”
On advice for renters:
“In that case, you really would only need the coverage for your possessions. And it’s also a good idea to go to www.floodsmart.gov and take a look at how much it would cost just to get the possessions coverage. It’s much less expensive than buying the coverage that’s going to protect your whole home.”
On the importance of tree trimming now:
“That’s something that people should be doing before storm season every year. The key thing is that very little tree damage removal is covered under insurance. If it falls on your home — that’s usually covered to fix your home. But to actually get the tree removed — which can cost thousands of dollars — generally, you’re limited to about $500 to $1,000 for tree removal and may have to pay a lot out of your own pocket.”