Hurricane Hermine Damage Seen as Modest

21 Sep
Tropical Storm Hermine Hits Florida

A total of 573 claims had come in for storm surge damage with the majority of them centered in the Tampa Bay area.

It has been 11 years since Florida suffered a Hurricane strike. Unfortunately, that lucky streak recently ended when Hurricane Hermine came home to roost. Luckily, Hermine will only have a modest impact on the property insurance industry in the Sunshine State according to industry experts.

Hermine weakened to a tropical storm as it continued its move inland but winds were still topping 70 miles per hour according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. Winds of that speed can still cause serious damage. Over 300,000 homes were left without power and in some areas, Tallahassee for example, the power outage lasted for a week.

According to Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, which is a state run insurance company, a total of 573 claims had come in for storm surge damage with the majority of them centered in the Tampa Bay area.

In a preliminary report that was recently released by Karen Clark & Co. the insured losses from Hurricane Hermine were estimated to be around $500 million. Economic damage in the area could exceed $1 billion, which is very manageable for the insurance industry according to the report. However, Hermine may depress third quarter earnings from the major insurance writers in the Florida area.

Hermine ended up being a minor storm compared to 1992’s Hurricane Andrew, which created $24 billion in insured damages. Florida took a number of hits between 2004-2005 when it was hit with 4 multibillion-dollar storms that ranked among the 10 costliest in the history of the Sunshine State.

Who’s on the Hook?

Five insurance companies hold the biggest exposure to the damage caused by Hermine. Universal Insurance Holding Group, Tower Hill, State Farm Mutual, Citizens Property Insurance, which is run by the state and Federated National Insurance will be bearing the brunt of the insured losses across the state.

This is a big change from the insurance landscape just a decade ago. Back then, Citizens Property was by far the biggest insurer in the state, mainly because other companies were not writing policies due to repeated losses. Currently, 60 percent of the Florida market is insured by Florida based homeowner insurance companies.

What About Me?

If Hermine damaged your home, you are probably not really all that concerned about how it will impact the insurance industry in Florida. Your biggest concern will be getting your home repaired and the first thing you will need to do is file a claim with your insurer.

Here are a few tips for filing a claim on your homeowners insurance:

Save Your Insurance for Major Damage: If the damage done to your home only adds up to a few thousand dollars, you may want to pay for the damage out of your own pocket. Homeowners insurance should be saved for major claims because a claim will absolutely push your rates up. If your home suffered serious damage, contact your insurer to start the claim process.

Notify Your Insurer: As soon as it is safe you should notify your insurance company of the loss. Have your policy number on hand if possible and give them as many details as possible. Review your policy to make sure your damage is covered and take detailed notes on whom you spoke with as well as the details of the conversation.

Document Your Loss: Document your losses and the damage to your home as soon as it is safe to go back. Take photos, and video, shoot from a variety of angles and try to document all damage to the house as well as lost personal possessions. Take a personal inventory of your property and put together an inventory list for your adjuster. Please see our article: Best Home Inventory Apps on the Market

Secure Your Home: If necessary, secure your home. Broken windows should be boarded up and if your roof has been damaged you should put a tarp over any holes to prevent further damage. Insurance companies will not cover any damage that happens after the storm if you don’t make reasonable efforts to prevent it.

Negotiate: Be aware that settlement offers are negotiable if you are unhappy with the offer. However, be prepared for battle and make sure you have documentation to back up your settlement amount.

Finally, keep detailed note throughout the entire claim process, this can be very helpful if disputes arise later in the process. Notate names, titles, dates and details of all conversations.

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