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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.
Florida Governor Rick Scott issued an executive order yesterday putting the entire state on notice that ill winds are coming. The National Hurricane Center continues to update its advisories, and hurricane watches and warnings are in effect. A warning means take immediate action. This is not a drill.
The hurricane drill may be a distant memory for some. Here’s hoping those who had experience with the storms of 2004 and 2005 provide quick tutorials, and the lessons are put into practice. If you are in an evacuation zone and in an area where a hurricane warning has been issued, get on the road — while you still can. Don’t fight with the authorities over your right to stay. Don’t fight with the wind because it’s stronger than you. The (often) arduous journey of your flight to safety is a better tale to tell than a first-person account of the physical mess Matthew is expected to deliver.
Be safe. Be Ready, Florida.
We live in Florida; we know the drill. Yet, this might not be a drill but the real thing. At the time of this post (early afternoon on Thursday), the National Hurricane Center forecast had Tropical Storm Hermine extending her reach along our coastline. You can be glued to the TV watching weather reports – or you can be a person of action.
Late summer is the peak time for hurricane season. And as if on cue, there’s a few storms brewing out in the Atlantic. It’s too early to tell if they will impact Florida, but it is not too early to prepare as if they are.
Review our hurricane season insurance checklist. First on the list is probably the most important: Make certain to have enough coverage to completely rebuild your home in the event it is severely damaged or destroyed. This means sufficient insurance protection to rebuild your home and replace all its contents.
Don’t confuse the real estate value of your home with its insurance cost. Typically, the older your home the bigger the gap between what it costs to insure it, which is the rebuilding costs, and what you would get if you sold it.
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.