The Weather Network warns that warmer than normal sea surface temperatures off the eastern coast of the U.S. as well as the Gulf of Mexico mean that the Atlantic hurricane season this year has the potential to be a powerful one. This month, the Tropical Meteorology team at Colorado State University updated its April prediction of 13 named storms to 15, with six of those storms becoming hurricanes and two being major ones. With the most active hurricane months still in front of us, this is a good time to review your homeowner’s insurance and familiarize yourself with your policy.
Homeowners in 19 coastal states including Florida have separate storm deductibles, instituted by insurers to limit their exposure to losses caused by hurricanes and tropical storms. Hurricane deductibles are percentage or dollar deductibles that are higher than for other causes of loss, are fixed by state law, and apply only once during a hurricane season. By Florida law, all insurers must offer a hurricane deductible of $500, two percent, five percent and ten percent of the policy dwelling or structure limits. The percentages are based on the total value of the home. Property insurance rate filings must include mitigation discounts or credits for personal and commercial residential properties.
You may be able to lower your hurricane insurance costs by installing:
- Wind-resistant roofing
- Garage door braces
- Storm shutters
- Hurricane straps, clips, or anchor belts
- An extra layer of waterproofing between your roof’s shingles and sheathing.
These storm deductibles are triggered by windstorm losses resulting only from a hurricane declared by National Weather Service and “apply for damage that occurs from the time a hurricane watch or warning is issued for any part of Florida, up to 72 hours after such a watch or warning ends and anytime hurricane conditions exist throughout the state.” That’s right. Standard homeowner policies only cover wind damage (some also cover wind-driven rain damage). Flood damage requires another policy offered by some insurance companies and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). A 30-day waiting period from date of purchase is typically required before coverage goes into effect, so planning ahead is crucial. The NFIP offers a one-step flood risk profile for those who want to estimate their risk or premium.
Standard homeowner’s insurance policies typically provide coverage for dwellings, unattached structures, personal property, loss of use, personal liability, and medical payments. In order to be adequately covered, the general guideline is that your home should be insured for the amount it will take to rebuild at current prices for building materials and labor costs. When it comes to personal property, a room-by-room inventory can be invaluable if a hurricane strikes. Consider using free online software that makes creating and keeping a home inventory easy by visiting https://www.knowyourstuff.org/iii/login.html.
We Can Help
Insurance policies are legally binding contracts under which both parties have obligations. You pay your premiums and expect the insurer to compensate you fairly if you need to file a claim. Unfortunately, insurance companies are businesses, and they want to pay the claim for as little as possible – sometimes offering only a fraction of the claim’s true value. Here at Stabinski and Funt, P.A., we handle a wide range of hurricane-related insurance cases. Whether you have a storm surge, wind damage, roof damage or water penetration insurance claim on your residence or business, we are prepared to fight for you against insurance companies that have wrongfully denied or delayed claims, or failed to adequately cover the damage. If you are trying to put your life back together after a hurricane or have more questions about this topic, trust your case to the attorneys at Stabinski Law For 45 years, we have helped people understand their rights under the law. Contact us by calling 305-964-8644 or filling out a free case evaluation form.