|Date:||May 30, 2017|
|Source:||Pensacola News Journal|
Rising temperatures and increasingly active weather patterns are just a few of the signals that hurricane season is quickly approaching. Unfortunately, many of us don’t give the beginning of hurricane season much thought—or take action to prepare. In fact, after a few relatively quiet hurricane seasons, it’s easy to develop a certain amount of hurricane amnesia. But like it or not, hurricane season starts on June 1.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s outlook, they are predicting the development of 11 to 17 named storms, with five to nine reaching hurricane status and two to four becoming major hurricanes. But mild predictions shouldn’t give us a false sense of security. As we saw with Hurricane Matthew last year, it only takes one bad storm to cut a path of devastation and destruction in our communities.
Floridians should use these weeks leading up to hurricane season to prepare for whatever Mother Nature has in store for us. Taking a few important actions now can give you peace of mind and help you prepare physically and financially for a major storm event.
Start by having a conversation with your insurance agent or company about whether you have the right amount of insurance coverage for your property. Ask if you should consider purchasing flood insurance, as most homeowners’ policies do not cover flooding. Flood insurance must be purchased as a separate policy, and it takes 30 days for a flood insurance policy to go into effect. Also, take a few minutes to create a home inventory, organize all of your important insurance documents, and develop or update your family’s emergency plan and supply kit.
When storms are approaching, make sure you have some cash on hand and at least a half tank of gas in your car. Hurricanes often make quick turns, knocking out power and forcing evacuations sooner than anticipated. Also, stay informed about the progress of storms by purchasing a weather radio or downloading weather-monitoring apps to your phone.
As residents across the Sunshine State are preparing for hurricane season, so is the insurance industry, and insurers will be ready to help policyholders when hurricanes strike. If you suffer storm damage, it’s critical to contact your insurance agent or company as soon as possible to get the claims process started.
Florida residents and businesses also should beware of falling victim to a scheme in which unscrupulous third-party companies try to convince homeowners to sign over their insurance benefits in order to proceed with repair work. If a contractor comes to your door unsolicited, we urge you to call your insurer before signing any documents. You unknowingly could be entering into a lawsuit when you sign over your rights. Too good to be true offers often can be too good to be true, and cost homeowners in the end.
This is commonly referred to as Assignment of Benefit (AOB) abuse and reforming the system is a priority of our state’s leaders. A report by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation shows that all homeowners’ insurance rates could increase 10 percent a year because of AOB fraud.
As the 2017 hurricane season approaches, we urge you to get ready now and beware of new schemes in the community that could cost you down the road. Don’t wait until a major hurricane is lingering off the coast before you take action to protect your family and your property. The insurance industry stands ready to help you before, during and after a catastrophic event so that you and your loved ones can return to normal life as quickly as possible.
Logan McFaddin is regional manager of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America