It is really no big surprise that the state of Texas was once again officially named the most severe weather state in the country and is the only state with exposure to nine different types of natural disasters.
As if Texas hasn't already seen enough weather-related destruction this year, hurricane season officially kicked off June 1. Even though hurricane season has been in full swing, Texas already has been hit hard by Mother Nature this year, from heavy rains to tornados to violent hailstorms. By mid April, insured losses in Texas already had met the nine-year average for hailstorm damage in the United States. And that was before San Antonio suffered three hailstorms - including one that was the costliest hailstorm in Texas history - with estimated insured losses to automobiles and homes and businesses reaching $1.9 billion.
Some disasters, even in other states, bring about even more disastrous events. Unfortunately, flooding has also occurred all too often in parts of Texas. In June, a state of disaster was declared in 31 counties in Texas. Beyond flooding, as many as thirteen hurricanes have affected Texas in the last 10 years.
Buffeted by hurricanes and tornadoes, inundated by floodwaters, Last year Texas topped the list of states most affected by natural disasters.
In 2015 a published study showed the Lone Star State had 951 incidents of high winds, 783 incidents of hail and 228 reports of tornadoes last year. That put it first among the top five states experiencing natural disasters last year.
"Texas weather is always a big factor. While the studies don't always break down claims into categories such residences, autos, and rental property it all gets affected by these disasters," said insurance owner Ed Cantu.
Unfortunately, many people are not proactive when it comes to preparing for natural disasters. They tend to wait until something happens before they do become proactive.
"The reality, that is the worst time to be proactive, and at the same time, the worst time to think about insurance." said Cantu.
Without enough insurance or the right insurance, the financial ramifications of a natural disaster can be financially devastating for the victims.
Insurance premiums mean consumers have less to put aside for retirement or in savings, But the alternative is devastating.
Flooding is one example. Citing the recent historic flooding in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, many of the victims don't have flood insurance. "Floods are not covered" under homeowner insurance policies unless it's from storm waters. Consumers have to purchase special flood policies.
"Believe it or not, a lot of folks don't understand the difference between storm waters and flood waters. Understanding basic coverage is key," said Cantu.
In the event of flooding, unless the area is declared a federal disaster area, there's not much relief, and even if an area is declared a disaster area, most government assistance is in the form of loans.
A few recommendations for homeowners:
-Prepare property for the possibility of a natural disaster, beginning with the roof, which she said is the first line of defense against wind and hail.
- Strengthen doors and windows.
- Inform insurance agents of such upgrades because that may result in a discounted premium.
- Review insurance policies.
"Remember if you don't understand your insurance policy and need clarity, go to your agent or insurance company. Insurance policies aren't easy to read," said Cantu.
Another consequence of natural disasters, especially in the five hardest hit states, including Texas, is that insurance rates will rise. Insurance is one of those products no one wants to have to use, but for people without it, the results can be devastating.
It's a tough bill to pay, but when you think of the alternatives, it's the better option, and it will let you rest a little easier.