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Gallagher Reminds Homeowners to Prepare Now for Hurricane Season


TALLAHASSEE – The 2001 hurricane season begins today, with experts predicting 11 tropical storms potentially making landfall in Florida. Florida Treasurer and Insurance Commissioner Tom Gallagher reminds homeowners that it's never too early to prepare. "More hurricanes have hit Florida than any other state. Whether you live along the coast, or inland watching for flood waters, don't wait until a hurricane is about to make landfall before taking precautions," Gallagher said. "Now is the time to review your insurance policies and speak to your agent about the coverage you will need in the event of a disaster this season."

Gallagher recommended that Florida residents follow these storm preparation tips to protect themselves and their property:

Carefully review your policy and its "declarations" page. For example, you should know whether your policy would pay "replacement cost" or "actual cash value" for a covered loss. The latter generally will not pay enough to replace a destroyed item at today's prices. In addition, you may want to upgrade your policy if it doesn't cover the current value of your home and its contents.

Be sure you know what your deductible is on hurricane losses. Most policies now have a hurricane deductible of two to five percent of a home's insured value. If your property is damaged, you will be responsible for a portion of the repair costs.

If you live in a coastal or flood-prone area, you may need a separate wind or flood policy. You should contact your agent about obtaining a separate flood policy from the National Flood Insurance Program (888-CALL-FLOOD). A standard homeowner's policy does not cover flood damage. There is a 30-day waiting period after the purchase of flood insurance before the coverage takes effect.

Inventory your household items, including receipts, purchase dates and serial numbers. Photograph or videotape your possessions. Keep copies of this information and your insurance policies secure in your home. Keep the originals in a safe deposit box or with a friend or relative.

Write down the name, address and claims-reporting telephone number of your insurance company, which may differ from your agent's contact information. Keep all of this information in a safe place and make sure you have access to it if you are forced to evacuate your home.

In the event of a storm, take action to protect your property – cover your windows with storm shutters, siding or plywood. Move vehicles into garages when possible or park them near your home and away from trees. Grills, patio furniture and potted plants should be moved into the house or garage. Loose objects in your yard can become missiles, so tie down anything you cannot bring indoors.

Strengthen your home by making sure roof anchors are installed. Replace windows and doors that don't pass the impact test or cover them with shutters. The right doors, windows and shutters may also save you money on your insurance premiums.

Keep materials such as plywood and plastic on hand should you need to make temporary repairs after a storm. Keep the receipts for those repairs so that you can be reimbursed by your insurance company.

If you have further questions, call the Insurance Consumer Helpline toll-free at 1-800-342-2762. Ask for a free guide on "Insuring Your Home" or a brochure on "Natural Disasters." You can also visit our website at to download the guide.