insurance

11 ways to avoid hurricane costs

Hurricane glass

Want to skip the hassle and closed-in feeling of shutters altogether? Consider installing hurricane-impact windows. The glass is usually 3/8-inch thick and features a film coating similar to the safety glass used in vehicle windshields: If the windows crack or are smashed, the glass will stay embedded in the frame. In some areas, such as Miami-Dade County where building codes require protection on every opening, hurricane glass is becoming a popular option with new construction.

  • Cost: Approximately $14,000 to install CGI brand windows on a typical 2,000-square-foot home, according to Patco Windows of Pompano Beach, Fla.
  • Effect on insurance: Possible discount depending on state and carrier.
  • Pros: Eliminates the need for shutters. With hurricane glass, there is nothing to install or remove when a hurricane comes; it's always in place and completely transparent. Hurricane windows also help eliminate outside noise, protect against break-ins and filter out harmful UV rays.
  • Cons: There are lots of labor costs involved, and it can be prohibitively expensive. The solution is permanent and must be installed by a contractor. The installation can cause other costs and work depending on the style of the home, thickness of the walls and window sizes.

Accordion shutters

Housed to the side of doors or windows when not in use, these retractable aluminum shutters open up like an accordion, often from inside the house, to protect the openings during a storm. The shutters compress to roughly 1 inch per linear foot and keyed locking systems not only provide protection against wind but also forced entry. They also can be used to enclose balconies and doorways and are usually available in a variety of colors.

  • Cost: $15 to $25 per square foot
  • Effect on insurance: Possible discount depending on state and carrier.
  • Pros: Easily and quickly deployed in the event of a storm. They are permanently fixed to the house and do not require storage.
  • Cons: May appear unattractive on some houses. Tend to use a wheel and glide system that may be weaker or break more often than other products.

Bahama shutters

Bahama shutters are hinged at the top of the window and angle outward from the wall with the help of telescoping arms. The support arms are typically adjustable from 60- to 90-degree angles. The shutters protect against wind while providing light, ventilation and privacy control in everyday use. Bahama shutters often are used in sunny and coastal environments and can give a home a distinct, tropical appearance.

  • Cost: $15 to $20 per square foot.
  • Effect on insurance: Possible discount depending on state and carrier.
  • Pros: Permanently attached to the home and can be quickly deployed. Made of aluminum, vinyl or wood, they can easily be painted to complement or match the home.
  • Cons: Almost permanently block full vision from windows and can make a home much darker. Actual hurricane protection varies by style and manufacturer.

Colonial shutters

As a traditional style of window protection, colonial shutters attach to the window's side walls and fold inward to close. Permanently fixed to the window frame and held open by a clip system, they can quickly and easily be closed and secured with a brace bar when a storm approaches. With double hung windows, these shutters can also be closed from inside the home, eliminating the need for a ladder.

  • Cost: Moderately priced when compared to other window protection products, colonial shutters run roughly $18 to $30 per square foot.
  • Effect on insurance: Possible discount depending on state and carrier.
  • Pros: Can easily be closed by one person. Can add decorative curb appeal to a home.
  • Cons: Must be permanently installed on the house, a process that can be expensive and time-consuming. May require professional installation.
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