Despite predictions of lower than average hurricane activity in the Atlantic basin this season from AccuWeather.com, it is still important at this time of year to protect your loved ones and belongings.
The last time Bermuda was hit by a hurricane — Igor in 2010 — Argus processed only a handful of minor claims relating to damage to homes, boats and businesses.
Making any kind of claim however, is an inconvenience for our customers, so we always like to encourage prevention.
The low volume of claims in 2010 was in part due to the fact that Igor was downgraded to a Category One storm before it reached the island’s shores, but it can also be regarded as a positive sign that Bermuda residents take hurricane preparedness seriously.
To refresh your memory, and for those who have recently moved to Bermuda, here are some tips for preparing for hurricanes and helping you to get through them.
Before the storm
• Check on your elderly neighbours and find out if they need any help with their preparations.
• Secure, or bring inside, all outdoor objects that could be blown around by high winds, such as barbecues, garbage cans, garden furniture and bikes.
• Stock up on prescription drugs, batteries, candles, matches, drinking water, a manual can opener, canned and non-perishable foods, pet food and large trash bags.
• Also have some sturdy working gloves on hand.
• Make sure you have a fire extinguisher, portable radio and flashlights with spare bulbs.
• Fill your bathtubs and buckets with water to flush toilets, and your cooler with ice to keep any perishable food chilled.
• Prepare buckets of sand to extinguish small fires.
• Plug downpipes on the roof to prevent saltwater contamination. But only do this if you can do so easily and without causing personal injury.
• Close your shutters/blinds or board up your windows.
• Charge your cellphone and unplug it, along with all other electrical appliances.
• Fill your car and/or bike with gas and park them away from the house and any large trees.
• Secure your boat and check the up-chain and bridle of your mooring. Do not go out in the eye to check on your craft.
• Bring in all pets with plenty of time to spare.
• Ensure all insurance premiums for home and contents are paid.
During the storm
• Do not take unnecessary risks and stay away from windows and sliding glass doors.
• Listen to the Emergency Broadcast radio on FM 100.1 MHz for updates.
• Open one window a couple of inches on the side of the building away from the approaching storm to avoid pressure build-up.
If the ‘eye’ passes directly over the island remember to switch windows, as the winds will return from the opposite direction.
After the storm
• Listen to the radio to find out how best to proceed.
• Clear your driveway and street when it is safe to do so.
• Check on your elderly neighbours.
• If you have sustained damage, contact your insurer as soon as possible.
To help with the assessment, take photographs and create an inventory of damage.
Obtain estimates, but do not rush into signing repair contracts. Deal with reputable contractors.
If you’re unsure about a contractor’s credentials, contact your insurer.
Never pay the entire amount before repairs are completed and get a receipt for everything you spend on making repairs yourself.
It is not only residents who need to busy themselves making preparations when a hurricane is approaching; Argus activates its hurricane plan to allow us to respond to our clients quickly in the aftermath.
We will issue policies for as long as possible in the days leading up to a forecasted hurricane for those who need to buy new insurance or to update an existing policy.
The projected path and timings of hurricanes however are highly changeable.
We urge people not to leave it to the last minute to contact us.
However, rest assured if we can help you to better weather the storm, we will.
John Doherty is executive vice president of property and casualty at the Argus Group. He is a Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter and holds an Associate in Risk Management, an Associate in Reinsurance and several certificates and diplomas in general insurance. For more on Argus see www.argus.bm.