Before high winds blow, know your hurricane deductible amount

This should NOT be a surprise: Your home insurance policy has a separate deductible for hurricane damage. It should be common knowledge because it’s been in Florida statutes on insurance contracts at least since 1997. Yet, when the next hurricane hits, there will be some people shocked to find this out when it has been in plain sight for more than 20 years.

Truthfully, it’s in plain sight if you were actually to READ your insurance policy. You’ll find it in two places. On the front of your policy pages, there is this blaring headline in all capital letters:

“THIS POLICY CONTAINS A SEPARATE DEDUCTIBLE FOR HURRICANE LOSSES, WHICH MAY RESULT IN HIGH OUT-OF-POCKET EXPENSES TO YOU.”

July is most dangerous month for boating accidents

There are more registered boats in Florida than any other state. Makes perfect sense given that proximity to water is one of the many things that makes this state so attractive. And, those numbers putting Florida in the #1 spot for boat ownership also put it in the #1 spot for boating-related accidents and fatalities. Waterways are just as dangerous as roadways, and distracted boating is as big a problem as distracted driving.

Get serious about lightning threat

Lightning strike at Swifts Creek, NSW, Australia

Greased lightning, fast as lightning, lightning in a bottle, lightning-bolt ideas. So many positive images of lightning exist that we may forget that lightning is deadly. Especially in Florida. This time of year, almost every locale is subject to a summer thunderstorm. And, we may get so used to them that we forget that thunder is the sound lightning makes. If you hear thunder, go for cover.

A construction worker was killed by lightning this week at a job site in Pembroke Pines, a victim of a direct lightning strike. Another worker at the same job was injured. Earlier this month, lightning caused an apartment fire in Orlando, and eight people had to find a new place to live and deal with replacing their charred belongings. Not all of them had renters insurance.

A cure for complacency

The biggest threat to recovery after a natural disaster is the mass of people who are unprepared for it. After every single tornado, hurricane or flood, the media easily find people who have been impacted by the event, and they invariable say nearly the same thing: “I never saw it get this bad before.” Sure, seeing is believing. But even then it’s not enough. Those who’ve been through a devastating event think it can never happen to them twice. Until it does.

Time to start your hurricane-defying preparedness

Hurricane from above

It’s mid-May – and another hurricane season is about to be breathing down our necks. Maybe you’ve grown immune or indifferent after seasons of weather threats proved wrong. A word of advice: Never let your guard down.

Did recent reminders of the need for storm vigilance get your attention in 2016? Hurricane Hermine and Hurricane Matthew hit Florida last fall. If neither storm affected you, it might be easy to ignore them. The weather is wild and, despite all the scientific tools available, it’s hard to predict where the winds will go and how powerful they will be.

What you don’t know about preparing for bad weather can hurt you. For example, did you know that Hurricane Matthew last October blew up to be a Category 5 hurricane within a 24-hour time frame? If you are surprised, so were weather experts; they said no other storm had intensified that quickly. Read the report about Matthew defying weather forecast models, and then thank our lucky stars that it landed as a Category 1.

What if you prepared for a Category 1 (wind speed up to 95 miles an hour), but a Cat 5 with winds of 165 mph arrived instead? We don’t like to think about it, but thinking on it and acting on it – in advance – is storm-defying behavior. It’s time to review our Hurricane Season Insurance Checklist.

You may also like to up your awareness for the upcoming season by listening in to a couple of hurricane season awareness webinars from the National Hurricane Center. The NHC will be talking about new capabilities to issue advisories and warnings and also has a topic on inland flooding, which is an overlooked, yet deadly, threat.

PIP/No-fault future under debate – again

The Florida Legislature is again looking at ending no-fault auto insurance in Florida. Sound familiar? Tweaking no-fault (also known as personal injury protection – PIP) is a frequent topic for legislative debate.

You may recall a fix to fight no-fault fraud came in 2012. Regulators issued a report in 2015 that said the fix appeared to be working. Regardless, it seems the desire to do something about rising auto insurance rates may be driving the desire to abolish no-fault. Florida is one of 12 states with a no-fault law. Proponents say it allows those injured in a car crash to recover costs for medical treatment under their own insurance policy, without needing to determine who is at fault for the accident. Among the proponents are hospitals, which say about one-third of the people they treat for auto injuries only have no-fault coverage. Critics discount that view, saying no-fault duplicates coverage that most people already have with medical insurance.