Florida to get $615 million in federal relief for Hurricane Irma

11 Dec
Florida Homeowners Insurance Recovery

Florida Looking for a Strong Recovery: We must continue to work to ensure everyone impacted by this storm can fully recover,” Gov. Rick Scott

The state of Florida will receive $615.9 million in assistance from the federal government to help the areas that were hit hard by Hurricane Irma recover. The money has been earmarked to assist residents with housing, business losses as well as damaged or destroyed infrastructure such as bridges, sidewalks and roads.

However, these federal funds will most likely disappear fairly quickly once the Florida state Department of Economic Opportunity starts the process of distributing them. “We must continue to work to ensure everyone impacted by this storm can fully recover,” Gov. Rick Scott said at a press conference on Tuesday.

While almost all of Florida’s counties will receive some type of aid in the form of Community Development Block Grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, FEMA has designated 48 of Florida’s 67 counties as qualified to receive specific assistance. A few of these counties include Orange, Osceola, Lake, Seminole, Volusia and Polk. The most significant damage occurred in the Florida Keys.

State lawmakers and officials are working to finalize a plan for spending the money but also admit that there is a good chance that Florida will pursue additional federal money once they determine how far the current allotment stretches.

Unfortunately, many residents have found themselves underinsured or not covered for the type of damage they suffered. According to state statistics, in just Orange, Seminole, and Osceola counties roughly 37,660 Irma insurance claims have been closed without any type of payment. Statewide there have been over 250,000 unpaid and closed insurance claims.

In many cases this is due to flood damage, which is not covered by a standard homeowners policy. If you were not carrying a separate flood insurance policy and your home experienced flood damage from Irma, you may be on the hook for the cost of repairs.

In addition to homes and businesses, many counties received a fair amount of infrastructure damage. According to a recent Orlando Sentinel article, Seminole County Commission Chairman John Horan said they had received severe damage to county-owned lift stations and stormwater drainage systems. In addition, Curryville Road has collapsed.

Hurricane Irma Damage

Hurricane Irma hit the lower keys as a Category 4 storm, on September 10, 2017 moved up through Naples and continued across the state, hitting Orlando and Tampa as well. It downgraded to a tropical storm on September 11th. While the wind damage was less than forecasted, severe flood damage occurred across Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

Across the state, thousands of lower and middle-income homeowners found their homes severely damaged and later learned there were not adequately insured. Flood damage is never covered by a standard homeowners policy meaning many homeowners will have to cover damage out of pocket or look for assistance via low interest loans from the federal government.

Public structures were damaged as well. In the Orlando Sentinel article, Richard Halquist, operations manager for the Osceola County Office of Emergency Management said, “In Osceola County, the cost of repairs to public structures and other expenses is expected to top $20 million. Some residents of rural areas still have access issues with bridges out along County Road 419.”

The total amount of assistance for Florida was calculated after federal disaster and housing experts examined house damages and calculated other rebuilding needs.

Shop Your Coverage

Regardless of whether or not you made a claim on your current policy thanks to Irma, there is a good chance the cost of homeowners insurance in the Sunshine state will be headed up.

As insurance companies pay out billions of dollars in claims, they will be looking to recoup some of that money in the form of higher premiums going forward. In some cases, there is a chance that certain insurers will stop writing policies altogether in Florida.

There are a few ways to help lower your insurance costs:

Shop Your Coverage: This is probably the best way to lower to your insurance costs. Insurers rate risk differently so you need to find the insurance company that likes your type of risk. Be sure to compare apples to apples in regards to deductibles and coverage levels. Shop Your Florida Home Insurance Coverage Today!

We can help you find a great policy at an excellent price. We can quickly provide up to 30 different quote comparisons to help you find enhanced coverage and lower rates.

Raise Your Deductible: If you push up your deductible your rates should drop. If possible, double your deductible but make sure it is an amount that you can easily afford to cover in the event you have to make a claim on your policy.

Discounts: Insurers offer a wide variety of homeowners insurance discounts, make sure that you are getting all discounts that you are entitled to receive. Ask your agent to do a discount check to make sure all available discounts are being applied to your policy.

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