Welcome to Hurricane Season: Are You Prepared?
Heading into another hurricane season, it is always wise to expect the unexpected and be prepared for whatever may happen. Hurricanes have always had a perverse ability for destruction. In 2017, Hurricane Irma struck the state of Florida with sustained winds of 130 miles per hour. Forming out of a tropical wave off the coast of Africa, Irma traveled across the Atlantic and strengthened into a powerful Category 5 hurricane. Irma would later shrink to a Category 3 before impacting the Florida peninsula. The storm’s extreme winds allowed it to knock out power to 73% of electric customers in the state. The entire state, except for the western panhandle felt some impact from Irma. Over 6,500,000 people, in the largest evacuation in state history, fled the state. Across Florida, Irma resulted in 84 fatalities and over 50 billion dollars in damages. Other fierce storms, such as Hurricanes Andrew and Matthew have battered Florida in the past.
Meteorological organizations such as N.O.A.A. put out forecasts each year, but the truth is we can never be sure what hurricane season will have in store for us. This means we always need to be prepared for the worst. You will want to make some individual determinations to assess your risk. Living in a coastal area (as many of our clients do) puts you at a much greater risk for strong winds, storm surge, and flooding. In the event of a storm, you should defer to local authorities and heed evacuation orders if they are given.
1. Have enough nonperishable food, water, and medicine to last each person in your household at least three days.
2. Full tank of gas.
3. Cash on hand.
4. Battery powered radio.
6. Solar powered phone charger.
Prepare Your Home
While there is only so much you can do to protect your home against hurricane winds, these mitigation efforts can be the difference between your home sustaining minor and major damages.
Have an Evacuation Plan
You will want to find out if you live in a hurricane evacuation zone. Here is a handy tool provided by the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes which will allow you to see your hurricane evacuation zone. You might want to consider an alternative route out of the storm’s path as the interstates will almost certainly have severe traffic congestion. Alternatively, you might not need to travel far. In the event you live in a flood prone area or in a mobile home, the place that you evacuate to very well might be a friend’s home who lives nearby. If you do evacuate, you will want to take into consideration any pets that you may have. Most shelters do not allow non service animal pets inside. You should contact your local emergency management agency to find out which shelters do accept pets. A pet friendly hotel out of the storm’s path is another option.
Review Your Homeowners Insurance
When was the last time you reviewed your homeowners insurance? In advance of a hurricane, it is important to know exactly what is covered under your policy, and what is not. Most notably, many people are surprised to learn that homeowners insurance usually does not provide coverage for floods. We’ve all heard the saying that just one inch of flood water in your home can cause $25,000 in damages. You should seriously consider purchasing a separate flood insurance policy to protect your home and your belongings.
Aside from just flood insurance, there are other things to consider when reviewing your policy.
1.Review your hurricane deductible: Homeowners policies have a separate deductible for hurricane losses. The hurricane deductible is usually a fixed percentage of the policy’s overall limit. If your home is insured for $300,000 and your hurricane deductible is set to 2%, that means your deductible is $6,000.
2.Ensure that your home has enough coverage to rebuild your home entirely in the event of a total loss. This value is known as the ‘replacement cost’ of your home. It is not the same as the market value of your home. You should consult with your insurance agent to make sure your home is insured at replacement cost.
3.Create a full inventory of your belongings to help understand the true value of all your possessions. This can make the claims process after a storm easier. You can find a comprehensive list of all our carrier’s claims information here on our website.
4.Make sure you have adequate loss of use coverage on your policy. Loss of use coverage, which shows up on your declarations page as Coverage D, helps pay for extra costs associated with having to live somewhere else temporarily if your house is uninhabitable after a covered disaster. Your loss of use coverage can help pay for an extended hotel stay while your home is being repaired. Loss of use coverage is generally 20% of the total amount your home is insured for.
5.For a complimentary review of your policy, give us a call. One of our agents would be happy to go through your policy with you, either in person or over the phone. We’ll review your policy to make sure you are adequately covered in the event of a hurricane. We can even run a free quote for you to see if a less expensive option for coverage exists. Call us at (386) 308-3268 to speak to a licensed agent. You can also request a quote on our website by clicking here.
We at Berlin & Denys hope and pray for a safe year and that the state of Florida will be spared any impacts from a hurricane. During hurricane season, we must hope for the best but be prepared for the worst. Stay safe everyone!