Last year, two major hurricanes — Florence and Michael — caused significant damage in the Carolinas and Florida Panhandle. Forecasters are again calling for a slightly below-average hurricane season in 2019. However, as many of us already know, it only takes one bad storm to cause damage.
Hurricane season begins June 1 and extends through Nov. 30. We have already seen one named storm develop in May. Unfortunately, too many residents in the region still do not give the beginning of hurricane season enough thought — or take action to prepare their homes or their finances.
American Property Casualty Insurance Association encourages Floridians to take a few important steps now, to give yourself peace of mind and the confidence that you’re prepared financially for a major storm or emergency event.
Start with checking in with your insurance agent or company regarding the amount of insurance coverage you have. For example, determine if your policy provides for replacement costs or actual cash value of your belongings. If your home is insured at its assessed value, ask if that will be enough to rebuild in the case of a major catastrophe.
Don’t forget to consider additional coverage options, such as flood insurance, as most homeowners’ policies do not cover flooding.
Flood insurance must be purchased as a separate policy, and it takes 30 days for a flood insurance policy to go into effect. Remember that floods can devastate communities anywhere. Floods are not isolated to coastal areas or flood zones.
After a disaster strikes, it can be tough to remember everything that was in your home. Homeowners and renters should make a home inventory every year. Use your smartphone to video the inside your home and its contents. Include images of receipts for large items too. Back up the video on a cloud device, in case your computer or phone are damaged.
Ask your insurer if they have an app where you can upload the inventory as well.
If you sustain storm damage, call your insurer as soon as possible to start the claims process. Your home inventory will expedite the claims process. Beware of signing any documents from contractors before you talk to your insurer.
Don’t wait until a major hurricane is lingering off the coast before you take action. Prepare your family and your finances early with a few easy steps that can go a long way in storm recovery.
Logan McFaddin is Florida Regional Manager for the American Property Casualty Insurance Association.