The start of the next hurricane season is less than two months away, and many homeowners in Florida are expected to make the same mistake as years before that can expose them to major risk.
Once again, not-so-smart Floridians will wait until a storm is approaching before trying to purchase homeowners insurance or make changes to their policies.
What many do not realize is that once an official storm warning or watch for Florida is issued by the National Hurricane Center, several insurance companies will stop writing new business, leaving those homeowners with nowhere to turn for protection.
Some insurers will only suspend writing new policies for the areas under threat, while the insurer-of-last-resort Citizens Property Insurance might decide to stop writing coverage for the entire state, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
This is not a new practice for carriers, but many Floridians still take the risk, believing that no major storm will come their way. Last year’s busy season should serve as a reminder that Florida is always at risk, despite having a decade pass without a major hurricane landfall.
According to ValuePenguin.com, last year saw the volume of Floridians researching homeowners insurance spiking 500 percent as people panicked about Hurricane Irma. By then, however, it may have been too late for them to purchase any true coverage.
So, what can Floridians do to avoid being left out in the cold? They can act now. Once storm watches or warnings exist in their area, homeowners will not be able to change their minds.
Here are a few steps you can take to ensure your home is properly covered:
- Ensure you have enough insurance to rebuild your home – a policy should be able to pay for the cost of rebuilding your home, and not the cost of its real estate value.
- Ensure you have proper flood insurance – flood damage caused by a hurricane is not always covered by insurance companies. You can purchase flood insurance with the National Flood Insurance Program.
- Ensure you have enough insurance to replace possessions – most policies provide coverage of personal possessions for 50 to 70 percent of the amount of insurance you have on the structure of your home. Make an inventory to calculate the cost of replacing all of your possessions, and be sure that this amount is covered.
- Ensure you have enough insurance for additional living expenses – in the event that you cannot live in your home as a result of a disaster, a good policy should be able to pay for the additional living expenses incurred, such as hotel bills, restaurant meals and more.