During National Hurricane Preparedness Week (May 9-15), the Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (FAPIA) is encouraging homeowners to understand their insurance policy before a storm hits. This is especially important in 2021, as Colorado State University forecasts point to an above-average season, with 17 named storms and eight hurricanes, four of which are expected to be categorized as “major.”

“During National Hurricane Preparedness Week, stocking up on non-perishable goods, determining your evacuation route and protecting your property from damage shouldn’t be the only items on your to-do list,” said FAPIA President Karen Schiffmiller. “If storm damage does occur, it’s important that homeowners have a firm understanding of their current insurance policy and what steps are necessary to file a claim.”

When it comes to the possibility of a natural disaster, it’s important to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best. Ahead of storm season, homeowners should review several sections of their insurance policies, document items that could support future claims and, depending on location, consider additional forms of protection.

During National Hurricane Preparedness Week, FAPIA recommends:

  • Knowing what your policy does and does not cover. Not all insurance policies are the same. Some policies contain restrictions that will make it difficult for you to be fully compensated for your losses. Making sure your deductible is not too high. This represents the out-of-pocket expense you will have to absorb if you have a loss.
  • Knowing your home’s vulnerability to storm surge, flooding, and wind. Confirm whether your policy covers such damage.
  • ‘Reviewing the “Duties After Loss” section of your policy. Failure to follow the provisions listed in this section could result in non-payment on your legitimate claim.
  • Checking the “Exclusions” portion of your windstorm policy. Many insurance companies have added new exclusions to coverage, which could affect your protection.
  • Making a visual record of your home and possessions. Use your digital camera, smartphone, or video recorder to document the condition of your home and belongings before any damage.
  • Preparing a detailed list of all your personal property. This will help document your claim after a loss. Gather up receipts for large items such as major appliances, furniture, and electronics; make copies to include with your property inventory.
  • Creating a disaster supply kit that includes copies of your insurance policies, family medical information, deeds, and wills, etc. Place the originals of those important documents in a safe deposit box, safe or in a tightly sealed container in your car, and make a digital copy to keep on the cloud for easy reference.
  • Purchasing flood insurance. Flood insurance has a “grace period” of 30 days before it goes into effect. That means you should purchase it now – before the next major storm comes along. If you purchase it less than 30 days before a flood, you will not have the ability to file a claim.

In the event that a homeowner does suffer property damage from a storm, FAPIA encourages all homeowners to hire only licensed public insurance adjusters – not roofers, contractors, or “restoration consultants” – to represent them in navigating their insurance claims. Public insurance adjusters are licensed and trained to carefully inspect property, document the damage, understand insurance policies, inform policyholders of their responsibilities during the claim, identify the real costs of repairs and ethically navigate the claims process for the policyholder.

To learn more and find a licensed public adjuster in your area, visit www.GetReadyFlorida.com.