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Articles Posted in Hurricane & Storm Damage

2020 is one of the most active storm seasons ever in the waters around the State of Florida, the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea.

key-west-81664_1920-1-300x199STORM DEDUCTIBLE CONFUSION?!

Florida Property insurance policies typically have two deductibles. A standard deductible for most losses; and a hurricane deductible. The standard “Other Perils” deductible is for pretty much anything covered by the policy, such as fire, pipe bursts and appliance related water damage claims, or windstorms, etc. The hurricane deductible only applies to named Hurricanes. The last major hurricane to hit Florida was Hurricane Michael in the panhandle on October 10, 2018; and more recently in the western portions of the Florida panhandle for Hurricane Sally on September 16, 2020, and Hurricane Zeta on October 28, 2020. Hurricane deductibles are typically 2 or 3 percent of the limit of the insurance for the home which is a lot higher than the standard deductible for all other claims. The Eta storm of November 2020 started off in South Florida counties like Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County as a Tropical Storm (not a hurricane). But as storms in Florida do, things changed, and the weather system chased west back into the Gulf of Mexico where it was reclassified as a Hurricane for a short period of time before heading back to the Nature Coast across Florida again as a Tropical Storm.

DON’T GET FOOLED BY YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY!

First, an insurer may rush to slap a hurricane deductible on your claim when it should not apply because a Tropical Storm is not a hurricane. Second (and this is really the most important!), Insurers in Florida have often told their customers after a storm that unless they absolutely know that their damage is more than their hurricane deductible, then they should not even put in a claim. There are many reasons why this is terrible advice and a bad business practice by insurance companies. As the policyholder, it is not your job to know the exact amount of damage you have in the weeks following a severe storm. You also may discover that the storm caused much more damage than you initially thought or could see in the days following the hurricane. Many Floridians have fallen for the insurers gambit only to attempt to make their claims later on and be told its too late to make the claim.

If you believe you have Hurricane or Tropical Storm damage from any of these strong weather systems that brought havoc to Florida, please call us and we can assist you in determining which deductible applies, assist you with determining the actual extent of the damage to your home, and provide needed guidance through the process with your insurance company.

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The state of Florida’s coastal location makes it susceptible to tropical storms and hurricanes, which deliver considerable damage each year. If are a Florida home or property owner, it is critical to protect your property during hurricane season.

Our Florida Hurricane & Storm Claim Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you safeguard your property against severe weather. We understand the realities of hurricane season, and we are here to help you and your loved ones prepare for the worst.

Below are some useful tips if Hurricane Dorian strikes your property.

  1. Create a Home Inventory

You need to outline a comprehensive inventory of your belongings. Go through every room in your home or business and document the items with photographs, video and detailed notes with the value of your property. While this might seem overwhelming, it is invaluable when you must file an insurance claim.

  1. Have Emergency Supplies in Stock

Emergency supplies can save your life in the aftermath of a tropical storm or hurricane. You will need a large fresh water supply (one gallon per person per day) and nonperishable food (enough for five days). It is also important to have a first aid kit, flashlights, batteries and small tools such as can openers and wrenches. Another good tip is to keep your important insurance policy documents in an accessible, waterproof container.

  1. Protect Your Property

If a tropical storm or hurricane is imminent, you should do everything you can to protect your property. Hurricane shutters or thick pieces of plywood can cover windows and exposed areas. Remove any weak tree limbs to reduce dangerous debris. Bring in all outdoor furniture and anything else that could become airborne.

  1. Be Ready to Evacuate

If you need to leave your property on short notice, pack valuable documentation such as insurance cards, passports, Social Security cards and your property deed.

  1. Review Your Insurance Coverage

Review your home or commercial property insurance to ensure that you have adequate coverage. Verify that your policy covers damages for the current value of your property. If your coverage is insufficient, you should adjust your policy. Flood insurance and windstorm coverage are also great investments that can be purchased in addition to your home or commercial property insurance.

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Hurricane Irma is continuing to tear a deadly path through the Caribbean, causing widespread destruction and reducing buildings to rubble, on a track that could lead to a catastrophic strike on Florida.

Florida is braced for a possible direct hit from as early as Friday night, with forecasters predicting it could strike the entire Atlantic coast and rage into South Carolina and Georgia, where a mandatory evacuation has been ordered.

Our Clearwater Hurricane Claims Lawyers at Whittel & Melton want you to be prepared. We have compiled a list to help you get ready for Hurricane Irma.

  • Get some good LED flashlights and lanterns right now. I your local stores are out, you can still order from Amazon and get delivery tomorrow! The general rule of thumb is to have at least one flashlight for every person in your family. A lantern or two is great to have for additional lighting.
  • Take photos of anything valuable! This includes electronics. Take pictures of all your rooms so you have everything documented. Upload your pictures and store them somewhere safe (Dropbox, Microsoft Cloud, iCloud, Google Drive, etc.) before the storm hits.
  • While you’re taking pictures, snap some photos of critical documents and upload them as well.
  • Keep your photos and other important documents safe by storing them in double plastic bags. You can also use trash bags for larger photos or documents.
  • Roof leaks can happen in a storm this aggressive, so store some clothes in plastic bags and duct tape them closed. We recommend placing valuables on a high shelf in a closet.
  • Park your car someplace safe, ideally a garage. Try to avoid a low-lying area or under a tree.
  • Use your dishwasher as an alternative to a “safe” in your house if you need someplace to put valuables. Your washer and dryer also offer good protection!
  • Select a friend or relative out of town to be the contact point for your family or group of friends. Make a plan to check in after the storm!
  • Know evacuation plans for your area or building in case of an emergency. Make sure you know where to go and what to do. If you live near the water, put together food, clothes, valuable items, and important papers you’ll take with you now. Don’t wait! Leave as early as possible.
  • Your cellphone should not be counted on for communication. The storm could very well knock out service. Or your battery may die and you won’t be able to recharge it.
  • You should have a portable AM/FM radio that you can leave on so the entire family can hear what’s going on with the storm.

We are all hoping that Irma weakens or stays away, but we must prepare for the worst. The hurricane is most likely going cause devastation to at last some parts of our state. We urge you to take action now!

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With Hurricane Matthew looming in the tropics, it is a very good idea to make sure to prepare your home ahead of time for potential effects.

It’s uncertain what Hurricane Matthew will bring to the Tampa Bay area, but the first thing you should do is review your insurance policy to ensure everything is up-to-date. Our Tampa Bay Hurricane & Storm Damage Lawyers at Whittel & Melton urge you to do this to be proactive.

A potential issue with Tampa Bay and severe weather is downed trees because of the extreme damage they can do to homes. It is best to get your trees trimmed and clear out any old branches or debris that could be dangerous with high winds and rain in order to prevent any damage to your house. It is also a good idea to have a roofer come out and inspect your roof for any potential problems.

The U-S weather service says Hurricane Matthew is the strongest hurricane in the Atlantic since 2007.

Now is the time to prep for the effects of Matthew. Call your insurance agent and verify what your policy includes, and what you should be doing if you have any damage. It is also a good idea to check into your flood insurance policy, and, if you don’t have one, look into getting one because even people in low-risk flood zones can see significant flooding from heavy rains associated with the hurricanes.

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