With the recent rain being brought about by Tropical Storm Debby, many Florida homeowners are concerned about the insurance coverage for their home during storm season. Below are the top three questions to ask your homeowners insurance agent/provider.
Do I have flood insurance?
- Flood insurance in Florida must be purchased separately from your homeowners insurance. Flood insurance is NOT included in your homeowners insurance policy.
- According to the National Flood Insurance Program, a flood is defined as “a general and temporary condition where two or more acres of normally dry land or two or more properties are inundated by water or mudflow.”
- It is important to keep in mind that t here is a 30 day wait period when purchasing a new flood insurance policy, unless it is necessary for closing a home loan.
What is a hurricane/wind deductible?
- Hurricane/wind deductibles are typically different than homeowners insurance deductibles. A standard hurricane/wind deductible in Florida is typically 2% of the total value your dwelling (home) is insured for.
- Depending on how the damage occurred will depend on whether your hurricane/wind deductible will apply. Contact your insurance agent/provider with further questions.
What should I do if I think I may have a claim?
- If there is damage to your home, create a temporary repair to eliminate any further damage.
- Contact your homeowners insurance provider to explain damage and possibly file a claim. Depending on the type of damage and how it occurred will be factors in determining if the damage is covered.
When a hurricane watch or warning is issued it may be too late to prepare. By preparing before a hurricane watch or warning is issued you can reduce potential personal property damage resulting in fewer Florida homeowners insurance claims. In addition to taking the proper precautionary procedures to prepare your home for a hurricane it is also important that you create an emergency kit and develop a plan in the event that you are threatened by a hurricane.
Create an emergency kit. The following items should be included in your emergency kit: water (at least a 3-day supply; one gallon per person per day), food (at least a 3-day supply of non-perishable food), flashlight, battery powered or hand-crank radio, extra batteries, a first aid kit, medications (7-day supply), etc. Additional suggested emergency kit supplies can be found on the Red Cross Hurricane Safety Checklist . The National Hurricane Center also offers beneficial information on hurricane preparedness procedures.
Plan an escape route. Determine where the nearest official shelter location is in the event that you need to evacuate your home. If you plan to leave the area entirely, determine the quickest and best route to your destination and check with city or county officials for roads to avoid. In the event the GPS or other navigation systems fail, it is advised that you also have a good map in your car in the event that your planned evacuation route cannot be followed.
Take steps to protect your home. By following these suggested precautionary procedures to protect your home and personal property before a hurricane occurs can help to reduce the likelihood of having to file a claim on your homeowners insurance policy. The following is a list of suggested precautionary procedures: replace gravel or rock landscaping with shredded bark, keep trees and shrubbery trimmed – especially those with weak branches that could fall on your house, properly brace garage doors and windows, secure boats or other vehicles or machinery on trailers, move or properly secure outdoor furniture, and protect windows and doors against breakage.
Take an inventory of your personal property. In the event that your personal property is destroyed, it will benefit you to have a detailed list and documentation when filing your homeowners insurance claim. With current technology, it is easy to quickly document your personal property with photos and/or videos in addition to making a list. Remember to keep a copy of this documentation both at your home, as well as another location.
Review your Florida homeowners insurance policy and ask your insurance agent about flood and wind coverage. Although your Florida homeowners insurance covers the cost of temporary repairs and reasonable living expenses, it is important to remember that there is a separate hurricane deductible. Additionally your Florida homeowners insurance does not cover flood – this is a policy that must be purchased separately from your homeowners insurance policy. If you have questions about what your Florida homeowners insurance coverage includes contact your insurance agent.