‘Tis the season to be…well, not exactly jolly. The 2019 hurricane season officially kicks off June 1. Nature, though, may not have gotten the memo. The National Hurricane Center in Miami made its first storm announcement of the season on May 20. “An area of low pressure is likely to form South of Bermuda late Monday…”
KNOW WHAT TO DO?
Longtime Floridians certainly don’t need coaching on preparing house and property for the stormy summers. Newcomers, though, should definitely school up. The memories of Hurricanes Michael (2018) and Irma (2017) are fresh. Moreover, the dislocations caused by these storms are with us still. Some of our kin, friends, and neighbors will never be the same. Many properties, and unfortunately some lives, were lost.
HURRICANE SEASON 2019 FORECASTS
The annual forecasting derby has been in full swing. NOAA predicts a “near-normal” 2019 hurricane season with “up to 15” named storms. News media spins that forecast like a top. The pessimistic New York Times reminds readers that “it only takes one”. Coastal Living Magazine, in contrast, presents a Colorado State University report that’s quite upbeat. Maybe it depends on what editors believe will sell more newspapers and magazines?
WHAT WE DO KNOW
As Yogi Berra famously observed, it’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future. Where hurricanes in South Florida are concerned, there are some predictions we can confidently make. We can’t tell you the odds of being struck by a hurricane. We can tell you, though, that if you are struck by one, there will be damage. In the worst case, catastrophic damage. Hurricane Andrew (1992) is a grim monument to that basic truth. We can also assure you that when a hurricane does cause widespread damage, it’s followed by another kind of storm. That is, of property owners storming their insurance companies.
We recommend, therefore, that in addition to the physical preparations, residents review their property insurance. Is the coverage still a good fit to the assets its meant to insure? Do the limitations and exclusions match your financial condition and plans? Does your homeowner’s policy cover flooding? The time to make changes is now, at the latest.
Your insurance review should be fleshed out by considering the “what if” process in the event that you’re struck and damaged by a hurricane. It’s one thing to know you’ve got the right kind of coverage. In theory, that’s great. But what about in practice? What happens the day after the hurricane? The day after that? What do you do? And, especially, when will your insurance company pay your claim? How will you compete with the thousands of other claims after a devastating storm?
STAY CALM AND BARBECUE
Be ready. Be aware. The chances of a particular property in our state sustaining hurricane damage in a given year are small. The cost, when it does happen, can be high. That’s what insurance is for. That’s what Florida Loss Public Adjusters is for. Enjoy your summer.