You can't control the weather. But you can control how ready you are to face it.
We recently sat down with Caprice Cline, owner and CEO of Cypress Roofing, to discuss practical ways to protect your home against the dangers of a hurricane. During this chat, Caprice took questions from viewers and offered insider tips on how to best prepare your home before and after a hurricane hits.
Watch the full Q&A video below or keep scrolling to read the condensed version.
What are some ways to prepare for future hurricanes and tropical storms?
The thing we saw the most after Hurricane Ida was the damage trees caused. I encourage everyone: go outside and look at your trees. If you think that they're rotted, have a tree service come out and assess it.
My second recommendation is to read your insurance policy. Understand what it will and will not cover – but mainly, look at your deductible.
We also encourage home owners to walk around their house from all angles and take pictures. Snap photos of any fences and outside structures, then go inside your home and do the same thing. Go room-to-room because, if you do have to file a claim, those pictures are going to be like gold to your adjuster.
Lastly, have a list of contractors that you trust, so that if you have an emergency, you know how you can reach them right away so they can help you.
What is your #1 tip for weathering a storm?
Follow the instructions of our governor and newscasters. When they tell us to evacuate, there's a lot of thought that's been put into that. I know a lot of people don't like to evacuate. I know it's expensive, but, golly – if they tell us to do it, we need to do it. Should you decide to stay, make sure you have medicine, food, water, those types of things stocked and ready to go.
What is the best brand of generator to purchase?
After Hurricane Ida, we were in the community tarping for 16 hours a day for nearly four weeks. The best generators we saw were ones you could hook up to your home through a gas line. Those seemed to be the best because as soon as the electricity cut off, those immediately cut on.
We also saw a lot of portable gas generators. The downside there is that gas can sometimes be hard to come by after a storm.
Relevant article: 4 questions to ask before buying a backup generator
When should I file an insurance claim for my roof?
What we hear the most is, "Well, I don't want to file right now. I want to wait until after a hurricane." That is exactly the opposite of what you should do. Let me explain to you. There's something called a "hurricane deductible" or a "named storm deductible". When a storm hits our shores here in Louisiana and it's a named storm - hurricane or not, your deductible usually will go from your normal $500 to $1,000 to a hurricane deductible which is 2% to 5% of your home's value. So if I have a $300,000 home, 2% of that is now a $6,000 deductible. 5% of that is now a $15,000 deductible. Now, how do I get one of those good deductibles that don't change when a hurricane comes? Well, I'll probably have to spend a little bit more for my insurance policy, but it's worth it. So, read your policy. Have us out there before the storm because that's so, so very important.
When is the right time to call a roofing professional?
Do not wait until after a storm. We will do a free inspection. We will get up on your roof and tell you if you have pre-existing damage. We find that a lot of home owners who's roofs are more than seven years old already have damage from previous wind storms, hail storms, that type of thing. If we can find damage prior to the hurricane, that is when you want to file.
Once you've made your assessment and are ready to move forward, should you file a claim at that point? Or am I required to pay out of pocket?
It really depends. If you have visible damage on your roof or water coming into your home, you should call the insurance company immediately and file a claim. The faster you file, the quicker the adjuster can get out to your home and that's going to be key.
People tell me, "I see a few shingles missing, but I don't know if I need to file a claim." If you don't have any water coming in, let us add you to our inspection list and once we get through these emergency tarping situations, we will come out for free and give you our honest assessment about whether or not you should file a claim. Because you don't want to file a claim if you shouldn't. You want to make sure there's enough damage to warrant a claim. That's something a roofing professional like Cypress will be able to tell you.
Let me explain the insurance process. The only money that a customer or a home owner would pay would be their deductible. That is why your deductible is so important and why it's important for you to know what it is. So, whether your claim is going to be a $10,000 claim or a $100,000 claim, your deductible remains the same. If you have a $1,000 deductible, it's $1,000. Kind of like health insurance. If you have a $1,000 deductible on your health insurance, that means you pay the first thousand, then the health insurance picks it up. It's the same with your homeowner's insurance.
If you read your policy, it tells you that as the home owner you have to mitigate against further damage. That means you've got to get somebody out there to tarp if you've got water coming in your home. You can't just let it keep pouring in and expect the insurance company to say that's okay. But if you have to get it tarped, whatever you paid for that, your insurance company will reimburse you. You just have to keep the receipt. Okay? So, that's the first thing I would say, is mitigate against further damage because they will reimburse you.
Then file your claim. If you know you have enough damage, file the claim right away. When the adjuster comes out, if you filed it yourself, if you're using Cypress Roofing, we will come out. You just have to let us know when the adjuster's coming. We'll meet the adjuster at your home. We will get on the roof with them. We do all of this at no charge. We get on the roof with them. We help them to assess the damage, ensure that they see everything. And, then at that point, it usually takes a week or two for you to get word on what they're going to cover. They normally send you what's called an insurance breakdown. That will give you a list of everything that they're going to cover and exactly how much they're going to pay for that.
What happens is most insurance companies will pay you in a two check process. They'll send you approximately half of it up front and that's usually enough for us to begin the work. But, guess what? When they send you the check, if you have a mortgage, guess who's also listed on that check? It's you and your mortgage company. So you actually have to send that check to your mortgage company and get them to endorse it. We overnight that check for free to speed up that process. Then when the check comes back, we can get you on the schedule. At that point, once the roof is complete, we then file all of the necessary paperwork with the insurance company for them to release that final payment.
You hear so much about 30-year roofs. How does that work?
There's no such thing as a 30-year roof. Though I wish there was.
How about 30-year warranties?
A 30-year warranty means you have a warranty against manufacturer defects. That's it. It's only if when they were manufacturing that shingle, that they can find there was a defect in the manufacturing. It has nothing to do with how long it's going to last on your roof or anything like that. Here in Louisiana, because of heat and humidity, a three tab roof will last probably about seven to 10 years if there's no major storms or anything like that. Architectural roofs, I would say 10 to 15 years just because of heat, humidity and storms.
Can you share a little bit of insight about the the challenges Louisiana-based insurance companies faced over the last year with Hurricane Ida?
Unfortunately, over the last several weeks we've had about 10 insurance companies in Louisiana file bankruptcy. Which means we have tens of thousands of home owners that don't have insurance.
If you're looking for insurance, the first thing you want to do is call your agent. Your agent will be able to search and see if there are any other companies that can write your policy. If they cannot find a company, what we have here in Louisiana is called Louisiana Citizens. And so, when you cannot find insurance, Louisiana Citizens has to write your policy.
Somethings to know about Louisiana Citizen – it's the insurance of last resort, because it's state mandated. It's going to be more costly. In fact, it's going to be 10% more than the highest available rate. But at least you'll be able to get insurance. They are a nonprofit and they were created just for this type of situation.
By making financial preparations now, you can focus more on you and your family's safety when a storm hits. Learn how you can hurricane-proof your finances.