The Greater Houston area is no stranger to natural disasters and the potential damage they can cause.

Robert Oncken is the agency principal and owner at Oncken Insurance Agency, a Cypress-based independent insurance agency that has a specialization in home insurance. Oncken spoke to Community Impact about what residents can do to prepare their homes for hurricane season.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

How can residents best protect their homes during storms and hurricanes?

Be prepared for a storm coming in and ... aware of the weather that is coming. If it's going to be a wind event or something along those lines, I would certainly sort of batten down the hatches, so to speak. ... Doing repairs as they come up and not letting them go is something that would certainly help you out.

Getting a generator is a good idea, too, if it's something that you can afford. It certainly is helpful in terms of large weather events where the power may go out for a short or long period of time, like just happened here a few weeks ago [following the May 16 wind storm].

From an insurance standpoint, I would certainly check in on exactly what type of insurance you have on your house and how it will protect, what type of deductibles you're looking at, [and] what type of coverage you have for the roof. Because there can be a wide variety of options there, and some provide more or less coverage just based on what is available and what you can afford.

What can residents do to protect their homes from flooding?

Flooding is something that for the most part is not covered under your homeowner policy. ... There are two very broad types of policy. One is a policy through [the Federal Emergency Management Agency], which is broken into a few different categories as well. But the policy through FEMA usually caps out at about $250,000 in coverage for those for the dwelling itself and $100,000 for any content. ... There is another option called private flood insurance, and private flood insurance is a lot closer to a homeowner policy but just for [flooding].

The big difference is it's not always available for every single address out there. Whereas a FEMA policy is available, you have to be willing to pay the price.

So, insurance company "A" may offer coverage, and insurance company "B" may not offer coverage for a specific address on private flood [insurance]. But it does have more features to it, like a replacement cost policy, whereas a FEMA policy will take depreciation in addition to your deductible.

How can residents save their possessions from flooding damage?

Making sure that you get your drainage in and around the house as good as possible is one of the first things that you would do. But if you are going to have water coming into your house, getting things that are particularly valuable that you're able to move up to a second floor is a good idea.

And certainly, if it can't be taken to the second floor, getting it off the ground because a lot of flooding is not up to your eyeballs in the house. A lot of times, flooding is just an inch or two of water in the house. And so anything that you can protect from that standpoint ... is really all you can do other than having flood insurance.

How do you protect your house from hail or wind damage?

As far as protecting it from happening whatsoever, maintenance on the roof and staying on top of any issues that may need to be addressed in terms of roof integrity, mold and granular loss on the roof—all of those things are things that I would stay on top of.

The other thing to do would be to make sure that you have a good understanding of what is or isn't covered under your particular homeowner policy. You can't keep hail from coming. You can't keep wind from coming. But once it does come, hopefully your roof is structurally sound enough to where there won't be any damage where you lose the integrity of the roof. If that happens, you want to make sure that you've got the right type of insurance on your house.

What are some cost-effective ways people can protect their house?

I think the most cost-effective way you could do that is staying on top of repairs that need to be done and not waiting until they become a big issue. I think that also applies to your insurance—making sure that on a regular basis with your agent, you're reviewing what you've got, and what is and isn't covered. Because things change both from an insurance standpoint and from a personal standpoint, you may make a purchase and not make anything of it, but you might need to make some sort of adjustment to your policy because of that purchase.