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Hurricane season starts today, June 1, and forecasters are predicting another "above-normal" year of storms. Are you ready?
Forecasts out in late May from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predict a 70 percent likelihood of 11 to 17 named storms during the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, including five to nine hurricanes. In the central Pacific, NOAA's latest projections call for five to eight tropical cyclones (including tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes).
For perspective, an average Atlantic hurricane season produces 12 named storms, six of which become hurricanes. Last year, the most active season since 2012, had 15 named storms, including seven hurricanes.
Although the season peaks in August, there are several precautions worth putting in place well before a storm threatens:
It's important to understand how well you're covered, should a hurricane damage your home. Gaps could leave you on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars.
For example, your regular policy deductible may not apply. Many policies have separate windstorm or hurricane deductibles, set as a percentage of your home's insured value.
You'll also need a separate flood insurance policy to cover any storm damage related to flooding. Even if you have a policy, the National Flood Insurance Program's $250,000 cap may mean you'd benefit from excess flood coverage.
The time to act is now. That helps you plan financially for any unexpected policy-gap costs — and gives you time to get new flood insurance coverage in place.
"It takes about 30 days to obtain a policy," Doug Lyons, a financial advisor at Douglas J. Lyons Financial Group in Red Bank, New Jersey, told CNBC.
Gathering important financial documents is a key part of a disaster preparedness plan. That way, you can grab them quickly in an evacuation.
Experts recommend pulling together documents that might be hard to replace (such as birth certificates and Social Security cards) and those that might be helpful after a storm (such as your homeowners insurance policy and contact details for your agent). Having some cash on hand is smart, too.
Read more: Here's what should be in your "go bag"
Even if you don't live in a hurricane-prone area, you may want to consider insurance if you have travel plans that will take you to or through an at-risk destination. Ahead of Hurricane Matthew last year, U.S. airlines canceled thousands of flights, while Miami International Airport and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport temporarily shut down.
Whether you'd benefit from insurance depends on several factors, including the cost of your trip and where you're headed.
"There's no simple answer, because everyone's trip is slightly different," Christopher Elliott, who advocates on behalf of travelers through Elliott.org, told CNBC.
Policies can vary widely, so dig into the details before you buy. Hurricanes are typically covered, but one policy might allow you to cancel your trip as soon as there's an official storm warning in effect for your destination, while another may require a bigger impact like a delayed flight.
This is another area where procrastination doesn't pay: To get coverage, you must buy the policy before NOAA names the storm threatening your trip.