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Home Improvements To Save Your House From the Next Big Storm


From a protect-your-home standpoint, there are two ways to thumb your nose at Hurricane Irene and other natural disasters like her.

Option One: Have an insurance policy that covers windstorm damage and flooding (or whatever natural disasters are typical in your area). Two, fortify your house so that should a disaster strike, the building has a better chance of making it through undamaged — which keeps you safe if you’re weathering in place better phrase? confusing, and gives you a home to come back to, if you’ve evacuated.

Option Two comes with some financial incentives. As we reported earlier this year, more insurers are offering policy discounts:

“In addition to saving lives or keeping a home standing, the insurance savings can be substantial, advocates say. Depending on the state and extent of the modifications, discounts can run as high as 35% of the policy, insurers say. An Alabama resident on the Gulf Coast, for example, might save up to 10% for installing wind-resistant windows and doors. This is especially important for homeowners in high-risk areas that have already seen their insurance rates rise. State Farm, for example, offers policy discounts of up to 27% in Texas for impact-resistant roofing to limit hail damage. In Wyoming and New Mexico, it offers as much as 30% off.”

Talk to your insurer to find out what discounts are available in your area. Not every modification qualifies — fortified safe rooms, which FEMA recommends in tornado-prone areas, are a notable exception. Those projects that do must be built to specific standards to be eligible for the deal.

Even if there’s no insurance benefit, state deals can help subsidize the cost of your project: According to our article:

“Beyond the new insurance rules, many states are also offering ways to cut the costs of disaster-proofing improvements. Virginia and Louisiana have both hosted annual hurricane-preparedness sales-tax holidays during May since 2008, covering purchases such as back-up generators and storm shutters. (Earlier this year, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a membership group of state legislators, passed a measure encouraging other states to do the same.) Homeowners building a safe room may be eligible for federal or state grants; Mississippi, for example, reimburses 75% of the cost, up to $4,000, for a single-family shelter. And those impact-resistant windows and doors may qualify buyers for an energy-efficiency tax credit for 10% of the cost, up to $200 for windows and up to $500 total.”

Just don’t cancel Option One, that solid insurance policy. As Julie Rochman, the chief executive of the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, told us in May: “There’s no such thing as a guarantee. If you’re talking about an F4 or F5 tornado bearing down on you, at some point Mother Nature is going to overpower any engineering.”


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    • Every card is different, and the card caiponmes can change their insurance carriers without notice. Most of them give collision damage waiver only. If you have an accident, they will cover repairs over and above the rental company insurance, but they do not cover the cost of a replacement rental for you to drive. Very few of them cover liability. The most complete coverage may be offered by your insurance company, for a lower fee than the waivers offered by the rental caiponmes. In Manitoba, for instance, we sell (to Manitobans) a rental car policy that gives $ 50 deductible for damage, loss of use coverage, and 5 million dollars liability coverage, and this package can be bought to cover a rented car anywhere in Canada or the US. So, before you rely on your credit card, read the wordings booklet, then talk to you auto insurance agent.

    • confusing

    • I like the editors comment that got printed in the middle of a sentence

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  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to quentin.fottrell@dowjones.com or tweet @SMPayDirt.