As another potential storm for Florida brews in the Atlantic we wanted to share some helpful hurricane preparedness tips from an article written by one of home insurance carriers. As always if you have any questions or concerns as we head into the busiest part of our annual storm season please let us know.
Mother Nature’s wrath is unpredictable, but the best defense against a hurricane or tropical storm is a great offense. Hurricane season begins June 1 and lasts through November 30. Help protect your home and family by planning ahead.
Here are a few suggestions to consider as you prepare:
Before the Storm
- Review Your Coverage: It’s a good idea to review your Florida home insurance policy annually to make sure your coverage needs haven’t changed. Don’t forget, too, that standard homeowner’s insurance policies do NOT cover flood loss, and federal flood insurance policies have a 30-day waiting period before they go into effect.
- Hurricane-Proof Your Home: Install storm shutters, replace old garage doors that are approved for both wind pressure and impact protection, and make sure exterior doors have at least three hinges with a dead bolt lock one-inch long or more.
- Create a Home Inventory: Having a complete record of property expedites the claims process and helps ensure that you are reimbursed for your belongings. This can easily be done with a smartphone or video camera.
- Make an Emergency Supply Kit: Be sure to have enough food, water, toiletries, and supplies to last for at least 72 hours. Include medicine, glasses, first aid items, a battery-operated weather radio, flashlights, batteries, a cell phone, and mobile device chargers in your kit.
- Know Your Evacuation Route: Learn the location of your area’s emergency shelters.
- Take Precautions for Your Pet: Many disaster shelters are by law not allowed to accept pets. The LAST thing you want to do is leave your four-legged friend at home alone if you have to evacuate – if it’s not safe for you, it’s not safe for your pet, either. Make a list of “pet-friendly” places, boarding facilities and veterinarians, including 24-hour phone numbers, and keep it with your disaster supplies.
- Gather Your Important Documents: Keep your insurance policy and other critical papers in a waterproof and portable container, so you can quickly grab them on the go.
- Eliminate Debris: Bring yard and outdoor items in if they could be picked up by the wind. Trim trees and shrubbery.
During the Storm
- Remain Informed: Listen to the radio or TV for the latest on the storm’s path and wind speed.
- Secure Your Home: Close windows, blinds, shutters, and doors, including interior doors.
- Prepare Your Food: Turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed to keep it cold as long as possible.
- If the Storm Is Headed Your Way: Take cover on the lowest level of your home, preferably in a room with no windows, such as a closet or hallway.
- Stay Put: The eye of the storm is calm, but after it passes, you’ll begin to experience hurricane force winds again. In addition, tornadoes can be spawned by hurricanes, so try to verify that the storm has fully passed before you begin the recovery process
- Stay Connected: If your landline and power go out, use your smart device to access useful sources of information like your local news channels, the National Hurricane Center, American Red Cross, and the Florida Division of Emergency Management. Don’t forget to charge your devices ahead of time.
- Wait Until It’s Safe Before Returning Home: If you evacuated, don’t go back to the area until it has been declared safe by local or state officials.
After the Storm
- Make Temporary Repairs: If you can safely do so, take reasonable steps to protect your property from further damage, such as boarding up a broken window or tarping a roof. Take pictures of the damage and save all receipts for any purchases you need to make. Refrain from making permanent repairs until an adjuster has had a chance to assess the damage.
- File Your Claim: Most carriers have a 24/7 claims hotline that’s dedicated exclusively to assisting customers impacted by a large, catastrophic event. Please visit our Claims tab above for a list of all of our home insurance carriers claim phone numbers.
- Claim Checks: If you have a mortgage on your home, payment for your home repairs will be in the form of a check made payable to you and your mortgage company. The mortgage company must endorse the check, so contact the company to find out their process for this situation.
- Avoid Scams: Unfortunately, “storm chasers” prey on vulnerable homeowners, promising quick fixes and offering to relieve you of the “burden” or “hassle” or dealing with your insurance company. If you sign an Assignment of Benefits contract, you relinquish control of your claim to a contractor – a decision that could cost you money, or even your home, if a contractor places a lien on your home for unpaid repair bills. To avoid this problem, call your insurance company to report your claim before hiring a contractor.
- How Much Is Yours? A deductible is the amount of money a policyholder must pay before they can collect money from their insurance company for a covered loss. In Florida and most coastal states, a homeowner’s insurance policy has two deductibles; one for hurricane damage, which is typically a percentage of your Coverage A amount, and an “all other perils” deductible, which is generally a flat amount. The Declarations Page of your insurance policy lists the dollar amount of both deductibles.
- When Does It Apply? By Florida statute, the application of hurricane deductibles is triggered by windstorm losses resulting from a hurricane declared by National Weather Service. Hurricane deductibles apply for damage that occurs from the time a hurricane watch or warning is issued for any part of Florida, up to 72 hours after such a watch or warning ends and anytime hurricane conditions exist throughout the state.
- What Happens During a Multi-Storm Season? Additionally, Florida law requires that hurricane deductibles can only apply once per calendar year. If a customer has a home that is impacted by a hurricane, they should report their windstorm-related damage immediately so that, if their property is damaged by more than one hurricane in a calendar year, their deductible will be reduced by the remaining amount of the hurricane deductible. If they met the hurricane deductible after the first storm, they will only be required to meet the all other perils deductible.
When it comes to hurricane safety, failing to plan could mean planning to fail, so now’s the time to review your policy, emergency plan, supplies and deductible to make sure your family is prepared.
The full article and other natural disaster tips can be found at https://www.aiicfl.com/manage-claims/natural-disasters/hurricanes.