Natural Disasters on the Rise: What’s a Homeowner to Do?

FEBRUARY 7, 2023

In 2022, the U.S. experienced 18 weather/climate disaster events with losses that exceeded $1 billion per event.1 Insured losses from Winter Storm Elliott, which hit the nation in late December, are estimated to be $5.4 billion across 42 states.2 And insured losses from the recent flooding in California are expected to be $0.5 billion to $1.5 billion, including losses to the National Flood Insurance Project and the private flood market.3

The frequency of billion-dollar disaster events is increasing. In the 1980s, there were an average of 82 days between disaster events. Over the past five years, there’s been an average of just 18 days between disasters.4 Back-to-back disasters leave less time for recovery, and less time and resources available to respond to future disasters.

As events climb in frequency and severity, insurance underwriting guidelines constrict — making insurance difficult to acquire, expensive, or unobtainable. Take the following steps to improve your chances of obtaining insurance.

General Maintenance

Inspect your property once a month to stay on top of potential issues with your home. Include these items on your monthly maintenance checklist:

  • Drainage/downspouts — Clear debris from gutters or install gutter guards. Use a rubber rake to clear the roof, and electric tape to heat areas.
  • Roof/chimney — Look for loose or damaged tiles and check flashing.
  • Attic and crawlspace — Check for evidence of animals and nests.
  • Water sensors — Confirm that HVAC, dehumidifiers, washing machines and sinks are connected and functional.
  • Arborists — Have an arborist regularly check the trees and plants around your home. Review and consider removing any limbs that pose a danger to your home. Remove dead plants, as they act as tinder in the event of a fire.

Lightning Protection

Since storms are inevitable, consider adding lightning protection to safeguard your electronics in the event of a lightning strike or brownout. Products like EMP Shield are designed to protect an entire home. Its technologies have been tested at Keystone Compliance, in accordance with military standards.


Protect your home against hail by considering these upgrades:

  • Install Class 4 impact-resistant roof tile.
  • For flat roofs, consider the differences between bitumen and EPDM rubber. A bitumen roof is nice and tight. EPDM is synthetic rubber that’s resistant to long-term UV radiation. It’s easy to install and homeowners may do it themselves.
  • Fenex windows are resistant to hail. Since they are impact-resistant, they also provide protection in the event of flood.

Wildfire Protection

Take advantage of emerging technology to increase your home’s likelihood of survival if wildfire strikes. See our article for details and information on the following protective items:

  • Rooftop sprinkler systems
  • External home and vegetation sprinkler systems
  • Interior sprinkler systems
  • Fire-retardant gel
  • Smart smoke detectors
  • Smart heat detectors
  • Smart batteries

In addition, view USI’s Wildfire Preparedness Checklist for steps to take to prepare for a wildfire, and what to do (or not do) during and after it strikes.

Flood Protection

As weather becomes more severe, storms leave incredible amounts of high standing water. To avoid home flooding, consider flood-proofing your windows and doors:

  • Hurricane-proof windows — These windows are impact-rated and tested to withstand up to 10 feet of water and large debris collision. Fenex and MM Engineering offer windows that are impact-resistant and can withstand a substantial amount of water pressure.
  • Hurricane-proof garage doors — Garage doors offered by Broten or Amarr can help protect your home against hurricanes, debris, tough rain, high winds, and internal and external pressure changes. 
  • Foundation vents — These provide an outlet for flood water and relieve pressure on your walls and windows. Consider options like the Smart Vent door, which remains closed until flood water is present. Rising flood water activates the internal floats, which unlatch and open the door.
  • Sump pumps — These siphon flood water out of your basement. Consider one with a with backup battery, so that if you lose power, your pump will continue to work. The average sump pump costs approximately $1,200, with installation ranging from $600 to $1,500. Companies such as Roto-Rooter and Sump Pump Geeks are available to assist.