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Matthew Recovery: 40,000 insurance claims so far

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As of this morning, there have been nearly 40,000 insurance claims filed due to damage from Hurricane Matthew. Those numbers will surely rise in the coming days as people continue to find damage to their property related to the storm that hit Florida a mere four days ago.

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation released Matthew claims data on October 12.  About 90% of the claims were for residential property damage. So far, there have been 1,800 flood claims reported by people with flood policies through the National Flood Insurance Program, and 28 claims for private flood insurance, which is coverage outside the government program.

If a tree fell, now what?

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Now, we know how mean Hermine was. It’s over, except for the cleanup and the lessons learned. Hopefully, residents in the northern parts of Florida learned renewed appreciation for the power of even a Category 1 hurricane. Winds of 75 miles an hour are nothing to disregard.

Tallahassee took a pounding. I bear witness. For more than four hours (seemed longer), the house took a beating, prompting a move to an interior room, away from the windows, in the wee hours of the morning. I heard one massive tree hit the ground with an impressive thud. The second tree must have been hit by lightning. I did not hear lightning last night, but thought a transformer blew since there was a huge flash of light, which burst bright against the darkened neighborhood. (Power went out two hours before the brunt of the storm arrived.)

Flood Myth: Not in my neighborhood

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There are many myths about flood insurance, and the biggest myth is thinking you don’t need it. With a tropical weather system stalled over parts of Florida this week, the ensuing deluge should get you thinking about why you need this important protection.

A standard homeowners insurance policy does not cover flood insurance, and that’s been true for more than four decades. If you live in an area at high risk for flooding, the mortgage lender requires flood insurance. If you live in a low-risk flood zone, the lender does not require it. But that does not mean you don’t need it. Would you be motivated to consider flood insurance if you knew that nearly 25 percent of flood insurance claims are paid to people living in low- to moderate-risk flood zones? Well, now you know.

As of September 2015, there were 1.8 million flood policies in force in Florida. Yet, there are more than 3.1 million single family homes in our state. Many of those Florida flood policies are bought by people living in coastal condos. Do you need flood insurance if you live on the 9th floor of a high rise on the Gulf? Yeah, you do. Because if storm surge beats up the bottom floors of the condo making it uninhabitable, you won’t be able to retrieve your personal possessions as the building is likely to be unstable/condemned. Flood insurance would cover that loss.

Flood insurance statistics show about 68 percent of policies nationally cover single family homes, 21 percent cover condominiums, and 5 percent cover businesses and other non-residential properties. Two- to four-family units and other residential policies accounted for the remainder.

Earlier this summer, there was flooding in parts of Tampa Bay. The National Flood Insurance Program reported just 38 claims. That is not an indication of the minimal amount of flood damage; it is an indication of how few people have flood insurance.

Best job ever? Think insurance

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Remember Ned Ryerson from the “Groundhog Day” movie? Most Millennials were not yet born when that 1993 film hit theaters. But a comical stereotype insurance salesman is NOT who we are (though we do get the joke).

Insurance is a field that offers solid career opportunities with the positive environment to help people thrive. There are mentors, continuing education, a place where people feel they fit in, growth and advancement, variety in duties and responsibilities. The Insurance Information Institute produced a video on the limitless career options in insurance, featuring the new generation of industry pros.

Florida Alert: 5 days into hurricane season, 3 named storms already

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Today is Day 5 of the 2016 hurricane season, and Florida is on alert for a tropical system. It’s the third named storm of the year, and did I mention we are only 5 days into hurricane season? Pay attention please. There has never been 3 storms named this early in the season, which began June 1 and continues through November 30. Keep track of things locally, through the national Weather Prediction Center or through state weather status updates from the Division of Emergency Management.

Complacency is the biggest threat to storm preparation. Maybe you don’t scare easily. Maybe you were well prepared every year since the

Make today an action day: America’s PrepareAthon!

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Twice a year, FEMA promotes a grass-roots campaign to get communities to up their preparedness against natural disasters. Today, April 30 is the springtime event for America’s PrepareAthon! The title of the event includes the exclamation point (!), so that’s how important it is! And !!

No joke. Preparing for emergencies takes a community, and it starts with you. First step is to Know Your Hazards. There are six of them listed. One is winter storms, and as a Floridian, you can strike that off the list. But that leaves a handful — hurricanes top the list, of course.

Why spend a lovely, calm spring Saturday preparing for a dreaded summer hurricane? That is a rhetorical question. Here are 10 Ways to Participate. Among the tips is to document your personal property and to know what your home insurance covers. You can do those two important steps right now. Today. It’s America’s PrepareAthon! Award yourself an exclamation point.