Hurricane Ian

With Hurricane Ian forecast to hit Florida as a major hurricane and then possibly cross into the Gulf of Mexico next week, now is the time to re-evaluate your hurricane plans, and restock your hurricane emergency kit.  If Ian makes landfall on Florida’s east coast with winds of 125 mph, it would be the strongest hurricane to hit the east coast of Florida since Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

  • Water – one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food – at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Cash
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery

For more information on how to prepare your home for Hurricane Dorian see our article,  Preparing Your Plumbing For A Hurricane  

You should start outside your house. Check for dead tree limbs and be sure to cut those down. If they are blown by the wind, they could end up projectiles heading straight to your home. The same goes for lawn furniture, portable grills, and planters.

You need to make sure all of those things are secured well before the storm begins. Inside your home, bag as much ice as you can from your ice maker. That will come in handy for drinking water in the event you or your pets run out, if/when the power goes out.

Take an Inventory of Your Property

Taking pictures and/or videos of every room in your house will help you create a record of your belongings if your home is destroyed in a hurricane. These pictures will be important to show the condition of your property after the storm and to document the damage. It is also crucial to document any damage to personal property (furniture, clothing, electronics) so that you can seek adequate reimbursement for the loss of such items. It’s also a good idea to put pictures, documents and anything of value in airtight plastic bins and putting those on counters or other high places in your home just in case it floods, your belongings won’t be ruined

Making a home inventory is part of good financial planning: You won’t make a home insurance claim for items you don’t remember you had. Among those with an inventory, 79 percent keep it at home and 21 percent store their inventories elsewhere. Of those who keep their home inventory outside of the house, 31 percent have a family member safeguarding it and 18 percent stash it at work.

Review Your Insurance Policy

Depending upon the policy, either replacement value or market value will be covered for the structure itself and the contents from damages caused by things such as wind damage. Replacement value is recommended to make sure the homeowner receives enough money from a claim to replace all the items lost to the storm, even though it will likely make the cost of the coverage more expensive.

Homeowners policies do not ordinarily cover damages caused by flooding, and typically a separate flood policy must be purchased to insure against this type of loss. There is a 30-day wait period for flood insurance to become effective, so flood policies should be bought early. In fact, all hurricane coverage should be reviewed before the hurricane is at your doorstep.

Some insurers will not write new policies or allow homeowners to change existing policies when a storm is pending in the local area. In many cases, with companies such as Citizens – one of the largest insurance companies in the state of Florida – purchasing policies or changing terms of insurance ceases as soon as the National Weather Service advises of the existence of a tropical storm, hurricane watch, or hurricane warning. This applies when there is a watch or warning anywhere in Florida, so all Floridians need to be careful to check their policies well in advance of an impending tropical storm or hurricane.

What to Do After a Hurricane

The Red Cross says you should do the following after a hurricane:

  • Continue listening to an NOAA Weather Radio or the local news for the latest updates.
  • Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding even after the hurricane or tropical storm has ended.
  •  If you evacuated, return home only when officials say it is safe.
  • Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges.
  • Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the power company
  • Stay out of any building that has water around it.
  •  Inspect your home for damage. Take pictures of damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance purposes.
  • Use flashlights in the dark. Do NOT use candles.
  • Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you are sure it’s not contaminated.
  • Check refrigerated food for spoilage. If in doubt, throw it out.
  • Wear protective clothing and be cautious when cleaning up to avoid injury.
  • Watch animals closely and keep them under your direct control.
  • Use the telephone only for emergency calls

The Tampa insurance claim attorneys at Williams Law, P.A., understand how to successfully file insurance claims for hurricane damage in Florida – and how to effectively represent our clients’ interests when insurers refuse to pay valid claims. We focus almost exclusively on helping clients throughout Florida with insurance claims from the start of a claim through trial, if necessary.

Has Your Home Insurance Company Denied or Undervalued Your Property Damage Claim in Florida?

If your insurance company is dragging their feet regarding your property damage claim you should speak with an experienced insurance claim lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Tampa, Florida law office directly at 800.451.6786 to schedule your free consultation. We help Florida residents just like you fight the big insurance companies who fail to abide by their own policies. Remember, we work on a contingent basis, meaning you don't pay us anything until we win your case. 

K.C. Williams III
Managing Partner who has spent his entire career representing Florida insurance and personal injury claims.