Preparing Your Vacation Rental for Hurricane Season
It is that time of year: Hurricane Season (June 1 - Nov 3). While most are preparing their home and family for the worst-case scenario, owners of vacation rental properties have a few more items on their "Hurricane Prep List". So if you have a property located in an area frequently targeted by hurricanes, here are some tips to protect your property and your investment.
Be Prepared Year Round
Take a look at your property’s insurance coverage. If this is your first hurricane season with your vacation rental property, your basic property insurance will most likely not be sufficient for major storm damage. Do you have flood insurance for your property? Are you in a high-risk area for hurricanes? Discuss Flood and Hurricane Insurance with your agent. And ask about "Named Storm" coverage as some insurance exclude coverage for "Named Storms" (i.e., Matthew, Irma, Dorian).
As for the loss of business revenue due to guest cancellations, your business general liability policy is an option - depending on your deductible and amount of lost revenue.
Storm Response Plan:
First and foremost, you or your property management company should have a set and practiced plan in place to secure your homer, communicate, and restore your home to reopen it to guests as quickly as possible.
DOES YOUR RENTAL AGREEMENT HAVE A HURRICANE POLICY?
While the weather is out of your control, your ability to inform your guests of these situations, should they occur, isn’t. Check out the resources from HomeAway, which details the options for adding a hurricane policy to your rental agreement.
PROVIDE DETAILED INFORMATION
Have detailed preparation guidelines available in your vacation rental and an evacuation plan posted in case a hurricane warning is issued. Include local news stations and radio channels. Give information on the evacuation route from your vacation rental. Storm situations can be chaotic with misinformation and constantly changing forecasts, but good communication can alleviate this challenge. Property management companies should communicate early and often with Guests, Owners, and staff with clear and helpful information at all stages of the storm. This includes not just weather and local access information, but also strategies for evacuating stubborn Guests and contacting individual Owners on the status of their home once the storm has passed.
Inventory Your Vacation Rental Property
Take the time before each major season to go to your vacation rental and update your inventory. Take photos and create a list for every room. Write down everything. If something were to happen to your property, these photos will make the insurance claim process easier.
Prepare Your Vacation Rental Property
As part of regular maintenance, pay attention to areas of the home that are vulnerable to high winds and hurricanes. Do you have any trees, shrubbery, or limbs that are near your home and could be the cause of additional damage? Check your roof to make sure that you do not have any loose shingles or tiles, clean out your gutters. Preparing a home for a storm means more than tying up trash cans and hot tub lids. It also includes securing all pool and deck furniture and grills, moving elevators to the top floor, closing all blinds and interior doors, possibly disconnecting power, and many other steps to prevent and minimize potential damage. Provide written information for guests ( hurricane preparation checklist)
to help expedite this process in the event of an evacuation.
STAY CURRENT WITH FORECASTS
Predicting the path of a storm can be challenging. The storm’s size and path can directly influence what sort of wind patterns guide, enhance or hinder its growth. Forecasters have computers that take large amounts of data and predict where the storm will go and can usually calculate 2-3 days out fairly accurately. Generally the forecast track or path is given with the average consensus of these models. The National Hurricane Center has the most up-to-date information on hurricane developments, forecasts and weather alerts, discussions analyzing the data and more.
What to Do Once the Storm Has Passed
Once it’s safe to access the home, you or your property manager should be out in the field quickly and thoroughly assessing any damages. The storm recovery assessment should start before water on the roads fully recedes and include notes and photos, as well as drone photography when available, and any reported damages are immediately triaged with smaller repairs sent to your contractors, and significant repairs reported to your insurance company. Housekeeping may need to be called in to clean and ready homes for the next incoming Guests, so your reservations don’t skip a beat.
Once you have documented everything, it is time to clean up. Take care of anything that is broken and could be of risk to guests while you are fixing the property. If your windows were damaged in the process of the hurricane, clean up the glass and board the windows. Check for mold, as it can start to form within one day of flooding. If you notice that your property has the signs of mold as a result of flooding, take photos to accompany the insurance claim and speak with your insurance company before attempting to clean those areas. Store any hurricane prep items in an easy to access area, clearly marked - as you may need them again soon.
What are your best hurricane tips? Post them in the co