Reduce Risk Against Destructive Forces

The financial losses caused by natural disasters continue to rise, and developing countries experience the greatest impacts. The economic costs of natural disasters have risen dramatically over the last decades, reaching $190 billion in 2020. Natural disasters generate significant financial risk and create major budget volatility. Even countries with robust disaster risk management programs can still be highly exposed to the economic and fiscal shocks caused by major disasters.

No matter what place you are in, natural disasters cannot be avoided but you can always reduce the risk of costly damages by strengthening your home against the destructive forces most likely to affect your area of the country. By doing so, you’ll increase the likelihood that your home will survive the worst that nature throws at it. And depending on your state, municipality and insurer, you may qualify for grants or insurance-premium discounts to offset part of the cost.


To protect your home from hurricanes, you need to seal all openings from wind and rain. “When there’s an opening, the wind enters and acts as a balloon, pushing and pulling so the building comes apart,” says Julie Rochman, president and CEO of the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS).

It’s also important to seal and reinforce your windows and doors. You can protect your windows with storm shutters, 5/8-inch plywood or thick plastic shields. Or you can install replacement windows with impact-resistant glass.

Look for wind-rated and impact-tested doors, and be particularly careful with your garage door, which is often the largest and weakest opening. Even if you aren’t replacing the garage door, you can buy a kit to brace it. Also check all exterior door frames to make sure the screws are tight and the deadbolt reaches all the way into the door frame.


To protect against hail, your best defense is an impact-resistant roof. Hail can dent and tear roof coverings, which can lead to water damage inside your home. When you reshingle your roof, ask the roofing contractor to remove the old shingles and underlayment, replace damaged sections of the roof deck, re-nail the deck to the roof framing, seal the seams, and apply new underlayment.


During an earthquake, cripple walls can collapse. The most common earthquake retrofit braces the cripple walls with plywood and bolts the house to its foundation. Even a house without cripple walls may benefit from bolting. Check with your city to see if it has a standard retrofit plan ready for permitting. Look for a licensed, insured contractor with seismic retrofit training.

Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover earthquake damage, but a standard policy covers fire and the cost to live elsewhere temporarily. Although retrofitting increases the odds that your home will survive an earthquake, there are no guarantees. If you can’t afford to cover the loss of your home and belongings out of pocket, it pays to have earthquake insurance, which you can buy as an endorsement to your homeowners policy or as a separate policy. The cost varies depending on the risk.


The first step in protecting your home is to create a “defensible space” around your house so a wildfire can’t reach it, says Steve Quarles, the chief scientist for wildfire and durability at IBHS. That means managing plants and trees so they’re less likely to ignite or, if they do, so the flames won’t reach your home or burn hot enough to ignite siding or break the glass in the windows. Within 5 feet of your home and under an attached deck, replace bark mulch with gravel or brick or concrete features.

Next, make your house resistant to windblown embers. For the best protection, your roof should have a covering rated Class A—commonly, composition shingles made of asphalt and fiberglass, or a covering made of steel or copper, or tiles made of concrete or clay. If you have a wood-shake roof but no documentation that it is treated with fire retardant or has an underlying fire-barrier material, replace it. Block the open ends of clay-barrel tile, and protect the edge of the roof with noncombustible gutter covers and a metal drip edge.

Some of this advice can be taken immediately, while others should wait until a natural disaster is imminent. Either way, work your way through these suggestions so you can limit the amount of damage caused by the next natural disaster in your area.

Moreover, most states are offering incentives such as discounts on insurance or tax credits to homeowners who make their homes more resistant to fires, wind, rain, and hail. To know more about your insurance needs, ONYX Insurance Brokers can be a great help. Contact or email us now!


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