2023 – Florida’s Severe Weather Guide

24 Apr

The recent severe weather that hit Florida should be a reminder that the Sunshine State is moving into storm season. This means it’s time to prepare your home and batten down the hatches to help prevent damage from Spring storms. Experts from AAA recently offered tips on how to prepare for severe weather as well as how to respond if your home suffers damage.

“Don’t wait until severe weather forms,” said Mark Jenkins, Public Relations Manager for AAA – The Auto Club Group in a recent Space Coast Daily article.  “Now is the time to review your insurance policies and develop a plan to keep your family safe in the event of a significant storm.”

Here are a few tips from AAA’s to help you prepare for severe weather season:

  • Review your Insurance Coverage: It is always important to review your homeowner’s insurance with your licensed insurance agent before storm season to ensure that you are carrying adequate protection. Be sure to also discuss your deductibles.
  • Get Flood Insurance: If you live in an area that is at risk from flooding you may need a flood insurance policy.  Flood damage is never covered by a standard homeowner’s policy. There is a 30-day waiting period for new flood policies so if you wait until a storm is headed your way, it will be too late. 
  • Review your auto policy:  Storms can not only damage your home but also your vehicle. Comprehensive coverage will repair your vehicle if it is damaged by a storm, but this is not a required coverage. Check with your insurer to make sure you are carrying comprehensive. 
  • Keep your policy handy: AAA advises homeowner to keep your insurance policy number and claim phone number in your phone in case you need to make a claim after the storm.
  • Do an inventory: Keeping an inventory of your personal possessions will help make sure you are compensated fairly and quickly if you have to make a claim on your policy. Document your belongings by walking through your home with a video camera or smartphone. Keep a record of large purchases including the cost of the item, purchase date, and model and serial numbers, advises AAA.
  • Keep important documents safe: AAA recommends, storing important documents in a portable waterproof container. Documents could include birth certificates, social security cards, insurance policy information, and more.

What to do After Severe Weather

If your home (or vehicle) has been damaged due to severe weather, you will need to repair your home and file a claim with your insurer. Here are just a few tips from AAA on how to deal with storm damage:

Document damage as soon as possible: Take photographs and videos of the damage to your home or vehicle for your insurance claim and personal records. Document the damage from multiple angles. Contact your insurance company immediately to begin the claims process.

Prevent further damage: It is important to make temporary repairs to prevent further damage if it is safe to do so. As an example, cover broken windows with plastic or get a pro to cover the roof with tarps to keep the rain out. Be sure to save all receipts as your insurance company should reimburse you for these costs.

Hire a pro: After major storms, it is common for less than honest contractors to move into the area. AAA cautions residents about the potential of contractor fraud. 

“While some of these workers may be honest and reputable, we often hear awful stories about people who were taken advantage of at their most vulnerable time,” said Bobby Futch, Vice President of Claims for AAA – The Auto Club Group in the recent Space Coast Daily article. 

According to the AAA, dishonest contractors may:

  • Accept payment then never complete (or even showing up for) the job
  • Use inferior materials or performing work that’s not up to code

Red flags to watch for when dealing with contractors according to AAA:

  • Contractor shows up unsolicited
  • Points out damage you have not previously noticed
  • Asks for full payment up front and/or in cash only
  • Promises services at no charge to you or offers to waive your insurance deductible
  • Pressures you to encourage your family, friends, or neighbors to hire them for services
  • Offers you a discount for letting them use leftover materials from a previous job

AAA’s Advice for Hiring a Contractor

It is always a good idea to cover your bases when hiring a contractor. Making sure they are licensed, and insured can help prevent headaches down the road. Here are AAA’s tips for hiring a contractor:

  • Before hiring someone to make repairs, contact your insurance company to file your claim and ensure the damage is covered by your policy
  • Work only with licensed and insured contractors
  • Get itemized written estimates from at least three different licensed, insured contractors
  • Before you sign any paperwork and before a contractor starts work, allow your insurance company to come out and inspect the damages first

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