They don’t predict which U.S. states have the greatest risk of storms, and they never pinpoint specific cities as yearly hurricane magnets.
TALLAHASSEE, FL – June 2, 2015 – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) anticipates another quiet hurricane season, but storms develop quickly without much warning – and it only takes one storm to cause massive amounts of damage to a home and community.
High-profile hurricane predictions, such as the one from NOAA, only consider the six-month hurricane season that runs from June 1 to Nov. 1. They don't predict which U.S. states have the greatest risk of storms, and they never pinpoint specific cities as yearly hurricane magnets.
As a result, homeowners should prepare for hurricane season as if there's a 100 percent chance their property will be hit by a major storm.
"I encourage you to plan ahead for the potential that a hurricane could impact our state," says Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin M. McCarty. "It's been a decade since a major storm made landfall in Florida, but in 2004 and 2005, eight storms crisscrossed the state and caused damage in all 67 counties. It only takes a few minutes to make sure you're ready."
McCarty recommends that all Floridians with a smartphone download the free Hurricane Preparedness app from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. The app allows residents to inventory their belongings, which can help later if they submit an insurance claim.
"There are a tremendous number of people who moved to coastal areas in the last 10 years, and it's important for them, as well as all residents, to not take hurricane preparations for granted," says Chris Hackett, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America's (PCI) director of personal lines policy. "Now, when things are calm, is the best time to get prepared. Have your emergency kit ready to go, prepare your property, conduct a home inventory, and talk with your insurance agent or company about your policy and consider coverage options such as flood insurance."
If a storm does threaten an area, homeowners should also move outside objects, such as patio furniture and lawn ornaments, inside. Storm shutters or other glass-protectors can also help – and sometimes save money on a homeowners insurance policy.
More than half (51.5 percent) of U.S. homes have an emergency evacuation kit, according to metropolitan area-level American Housing Survey statistics released last month by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and. Census Bureau. The level of preparedness varies by metro area, with about 70 percent of households in the Miami and Tampa areas at the top of the list. Even in those cities, however, 30 percent of residents are not prepared.
Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater advises homeowners to keep their insurance and financial information in a safe place so it's easy to find in case of an evacuation.
"This packet should include documentation associated with your health and property insurance policies, as well as financial account information and contact information for banks and insurance companies," Atwater says. "Having these documents put together ahead of time allows you to have ready access to all of the information necessary to file an insurance claim."
The Florida Department of Financial Services created a homeowners insurance toolkit that can be used as a guide. It explains various types of insurance coverage, explains how to create and maintain a property inventory and provides a financial document checklist.
"Additionally, you should be familiar with the homeowner claims bill of rights," Atwater adds. It "summarizes, in simple, nontechnical terms, your rights as a policyholder during the property insurance claims process."
For more information, visit the Florida Division of Financial Services webpage.
© 2015 Florida Realtors® All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.