Several major forecasting centers now predict the 2020 hurricane season will be even more active than previously predicted. Scientists are now bracing for 20 named storms in the Atlantic. The 30-year average is 12 named storms.
Especially in the wake of COVID-19, we all need to be prepared.
If 20 named storms do occur this year, experts at the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University say 2020 would become the second most active season in US history. Rytech is a seasoned participant in hurricane water loss mitigation. Throughout the Gulf Coast and especially in Florida, Rytech has been responding to hurricanes since its founding over 25 years ago. This includes the back-to-back Florida seasons of 2004 and 2005 when eight hurricanes came ashore during a period of only eighteen months.
As a minimum, owners and renters should follow the basics before, during and after any storm. The following are some of those basics, including COVID-19 considerations and helpful links courtesy of the Department of Homeland Security.
For Rytech’s Florida friends and customers included below are the top five insurance considerations as well as some helpful links.
Know your Hurricane Risk–Hurricanes are not just a coastal problem. Find out how rain, wind, water could happen where you live so you can start preparing now.
Make an Emergency Plan–Make sure everyone in your household knows and understands your hurricane plan. Discuss the latest Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance on Coronavirus (COVID-19) and how it may affect your hurricane planning. Don’t forget a plan for the office, kids’ daycare, and anywhere you frequent.
Those with Disabilities–If you or anyone in your household is an individual with a disability identify if you may need additional help during an emergency.
Know your Evacuation Zone–You may have to evacuate quickly due to a hurricane. Learn your evacuation routes, practice with household pets and identify where you will stay.
Recognize Warnings and Alerts–Have several ways to receive alerts. Download the FEMA app and receive real-time alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five locations nationwide. Sign up for community alerts in your area and be aware of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA)- which requires no-sign up.
Review Important Documents–Make sure your insurance policies and personal documents are up to date. Make copies and keep them in a secure password protected digital space.
Strengthen your Home–Declutter drains and gutters, bring in outside furniture, consider hurricane shutters.
Get Tech Ready–Keep your cell phone charged when you know a hurricane is in the forecast and purchase backup charging devices to power electronics.
Prepare your Business–Make sure your business has a continuity plan to continue operating when disaster strikes.
Top Five Things Floridians need to know about insurance and hurricanes:
- Hurricane deductibles: Most homeowners’ insurance policies contain specific provisions related to damage caused by hurricanes, and a key feature is often higher deductibles for losses resulting from a hurricane. Under this provision, homeowners are responsible for paying a percentage of the insured value of the home, generally ranging from 2-10 percent. So for a home insured for $100,000 with a 2-percent hurricane deductible, the policyholder would be responsible to pay out of pocket for the first $2,000 in damages.
- Wind-driven rain: Damage caused by wind-driven rain—for example, rain blown through poorly sealed door/window openings—is not covered in most instances. While damage caused by wind itself is likely covered (subject to the hurricane deductible), water damage caused by rain seeping into the home through doors/windows generally is not.
- Repair scams: Homeowners should resist the temptation to sign up with the first repair crew that shows up at their door, and especially should not sign paperwork that assigns the rights and benefits of their insurance policy to someone else. Assignment of Benefits scams are a leading cause of rising insurance rates, and fraud artists see a hurricane aftermath as a golden opportunity to prey on unsuspecting homeowners. After a loss, you should always call your agent or insurance company first!
- Flood damage: Damage caused by flooding, common in a hurricane, is not covered by standard homeowners insurance policies. A separate flood insurance policy is required for this type of loss.
- Mitigate and document: Homeowners are expected to mitigate damage to their home to the extent they safely can, and to document their damage. So, putting a tarp over a damaged roof or boarding up a broken window can prevent further losses. Homeowners should document damage by taking photographs and save receipts for any out-of-pocket costs.
Helpful links for Florida
Company Claims Phone Numbers This document prepared by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation contains the claims phone numbers for all property insurance companies that do business in Florida.
Emergency Operations Centers by County The Division of Emergency Management maintains this webpage, which lists links to all of Florida’s county emergency management websites.
Florida Catastrophic Storm Risk Management Center This site organizes and provides access to resources pertaining to Florida’s property insurance issues, especially in relation to hurricanes.
Florida DFS Division of Consumer Services This website for the Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of Consumer Services includes information for consumers with insurance-related questions or complaints. During hurricane season, it’s updated with disaster resources and other information of interest to consumers.
Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund The FHCF is structured as a tax exempt state trust fund under the direction of the State Board of Administration. A nine member advisory council provides the SBA with information and advice.
Florida OIR Hurricane Season Resources This webpage is maintained by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation to provide useful information and links for consumers, media, and other interested parties. It is updated annually in preparation for Florida’s hurricane season.
Insurance Information Institute A website for improving public understanding of insurance-what it does and how it works.