Hurricane preparation tips are extremely important in Florida. As we get past Memorial Day and head into June in Florida, we begin the unofficial start of summer. In Florida, however, it is also the start of the hurricane season, which does not end until November. While most of the storms form in mid-August, they usually do not peak until late September, October. The flooding and strong winds from a hurricane can cause an enormous amount of damage in no time. When a hurricane starts to develop, homeowners need to make sure that they already have their coverage in place. Once a storm is named, insurance companies will stop issuing policies until there are no active storms. Therefore, homeowners need to have a good insurance policy in place before the hurricane season. Homeowners need to be prepared ahead of time for the risks that come with hurricane season. One of the most critical steps that a homeowner needs to do is review their existing coverage. Homeowners need to make sure they are aware of what their policy does or does not include. Homeowners should make sure that if they feel that their policy is lacking in areas that could put them in financial risk during a storm. Then they should have their insurance policy reviewed to make sure it provides the proper coverage.
Check the Limits on the Dwelling and the Contents
Homeowners should make sure that Coverage A (dwelling) and Coverage C (personal property) limits of insurance reflect any improvements that the homeowner has made to the home. After hurricanes, it is too late for homeowners to realize that their policy did not cover the improvements they may have completed. Having an agent review the insurance policy after enhancements is an excellent idea to make sure that the proper coverage is in place. Homeowner’s policies should address the needs of the individual. Some policies will include deductibles for hurricane or wind damage, while some policies will charge amounts separately. The deductibles for hurricane and wind damage are typically written as specific amounts and can vary due to locations that are near the water.
Be aware of Flood
Most people associate hurricanes with high winds and rain. The truth for homeowners is that most of the damage that is caused by hurricanes come from flooding, and not from wind and rain. Homeowners need to be aware that most policies do not cover flooding. While a standard policy will cover water damage, it will not cover the amount that comes with a hurricane. The flooding that will typically occur due to a hurricane is a lot more than the amount associated with a busted pipe. While there are some policies available through the federal government for some areas that are considered prone to flooding, they can be expensive and limited in coverage. Homeowners should explore all options before choosing that option. Standard flood policies will also have a waiting period before going into effect. Homeowners should consider that when purchasing a flood policy, as they could be without coverage during a flood. On top of that, once a named storm is in the vicinity, all flood coverage providers will suspend issuing new policies.
Items to Review Prior to a Hurricane
Homeowners in Florida especially should have these specific things in place before a Hurricane:
- Is the policy written as replacement cost or actual cash value?
- Contents in the home get covered at full replacement value in the event of a hurricane.
- Make sure policy has sewer back up coverage.
- Does the policy include vehicle coverage for wind and flood damage? Check vehicle physical damage limits.
Store Your Financial Information in a Safe Place
All policy information should be kept in a safe, accessible place. While also keeping an inventory of all personal property and have a total value amount determined. Any items deemed unique such as art, jewelry, and collectibles, should be included separately on a Personal Articles Floater. These items may not be easily moved for the homeowner to take with them in the event of an evacuation. Homeowners should make every attempt to store them on higher ground, such as attics or upper floors to reduce the risk of water damage.
Construct a Hurricane Emergency Kit
Before a hurricane makes landfall, homeowners should have an emergency supply kit ready. The items to include in that kit are:
- A gallon of water for each person per day to last three days.
- Battery-powered radio with back up batteries.
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First Aid kit
- A minimum of 3 days’ worth of non-perishable food
- Cell phone and additional charges
- Cash (atm’s may be down)
- List of nearby shelters in the event of an evacuation.
- Moist towelettes for personal sanitation.
Other simple steps that can make a difference in preventing damage. Before hurricane season, homeowners should keep trees trimmed to avoid damage from debris. The homeowner should also clear gutters to prevent clogs and keep water from accumulating and causing water damage. Inspect the roof and make sure there no areas that require patchwork. Weak roofs can lead to water and wind damage, which can lead to substantial loss. Although homeowners may have all the appropriate coverage, it is best to prevent damage from occurring.