Hurricane Dorian’s track across the Atlantic and along Florida’s coast was a stark reminder to us all. We live in South Florida at the pleasure of Nature. Hurricanes and hurricane damage are facts of life.
We in South Florida were spared this time. Dorian took a last-minute sharp turn to the north and drifted away. Our neighbors in the Bahamas didn’t fare so well. The death toll there stands today at 30. It is likely to climb as recovery proceeds.
Dorian was, in fact, a very powerful storm. Wind gusts topped 220mph. Early images from the Bahamas show near-total destruction and flooding.
Most of us in Florida have at this point taken down our shutters. We need to remember, though, that hurricane season isn’t over yet. Indeed, two more tropical lows are spinning off the coast of Africa and heading our way.
Hurricanes Wilma (2006) and Irma (2017) were two recent storms that struck our area. The bill for Wilma’s damages was more than $24 billion. Twelve years later, Irma’s destruction was over twice that costly.
Who can forget the aftermath of these storms? The blue FEMA tarps on the roofs of houses. Tree trunks standing naked, stripped of branches and leaves. The debris slowly collected and piled along the roadsides, over head-high.
A famous comedian quips that “It ain’t that the wind’s blowin’, it’s what it’s blowin’”. Wind and water are a hurricane’s messengers of destruction. Its winds can turn any unsecured object into a missile Along the shoreline, wind and water work together. Hurricane-force winds literally shove sea water ashore. Dorian’s storm surge has left as much as 75% of some Bahaman islands under water.
PREP AND RECOVERY
Veteran Floridans generally know the basics of storm prep. There are steps to take to endure the storm itself, of course. In addition, we prepare to live for days or weeks afterward with no power. Food and water supplies are likely to vanish for some period. For this reason, new Floridians need to learn this drill.
Here we come to the nub of this post. Property owners should review their insurance policies. Just as they inspect generators and emergency food supplies. Every homeowner should know exactly what his or her policy covers. And doesn’t cover. Be familiar with the conditions and exclusions. Rebuilding after a hurricane is stressful enough without insurance surprises.
Of special interest to South Florida residents is Florida Statute 627.4025. The title tells the story: Residential coverage and hurricane coverage defined. South Florida homeowner policies often have separate Hurricane Deductibles. This is the amount of hurricane damage the homeowner has to cover before the insurance kicks in. The state law regulates the complexities of the Hurricane Deductible.
Prepare for the worst, hope for the best. If your property does sustain hurricane damage, don’t take on your insurer alone. Florida Loss Public Adjusters routinely secures much better payouts than our clients can get by themselves. You should always prepare your finances for a natural disaster.
Insurance companies are experts at promoting their financial interests in covering hurricane damage. We’re experts in defending our clients’ interests.