TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — As Florida braces itself for Hurricane Dorian, forecast to arrive just as National Preparedness Month begins, the Personal Insurance Federation of Florida (PIFF) urges Floridians to take immediate steps to protect themselves and their loved ones. In addition to replenishing basic supplies, preparing for the unique needs of children, elderly relatives and pets, PIFF shared insurance-related tips to help Floridians protect their families and important assets.
“Dorian’s approach at this midpoint of Hurricane Season reminds us that we’re only now reaching the season’s most active time,” said Michael Carlson, president and CEO of PIFF. “We hope everyone stays safe. As Floridians prepare to protect their homes and loved ones, there are also some easy and important steps that should be taken now to help with the insurance claims process after a storm.”
Last-minute Insurance Preparation Tips:
Review and protect important paperwork: After reviewing your insurance policy to better understand your coverage, make note of key contacts and their phone numbers in case the power goes out and you cannot access the internet. Place these and other important documents inside a waterproof bag so you have the information handy when you need to make a claim. Later, keep receipts for out-of-pocket expenses, like tarps and wood, incurred while mitigating post-storm damage.
Inventory your possessions and their value: One of the easiest ways to prepare for a claim is to document your belongings and their condition – this provides proof of losses for tax or disaster aid. Take the time to photograph every room, closet and drawer in your house in case you need to file a claim after the hurricane. By photographing, instead of videoing, you can organize your photos by room so if you do have to file a claim, you only need to search through a few dozen photos instead of hundreds. It is also in your best interest to photograph the outside condition of your home, connected structures, sheds and other items you cannot protect from the wind.
Know your deductible: If you file an insurance claim after a hurricane warning has been issued, there may be an additional amount to pay-out-of-pocket before your insurer will cover damage caused by the storm. Ask your insurer for this amount so you have it in mind and are prepared with an emergency fund or through a home equity line. Understanding this before the hurricane hits will make you better prepared to respond in the days that follow.
Avoid fly-by-night repair vendors: And finally, if a storm damages your home, call your insurance agent or company first. Do not fall prey to some of the vendors who knock on doors promising free roofs or other quick repairs – some may state that signing an “assignment of benefits” (AOB) is the only way to resolve an insurance claim without delay. However, this is not required and will transfer all rights under the insurance policy from the homeowner to the vendor, leaving you completely removed from your own insurance claim process. Legislation passed this year aims to curtail fraud, but Floridians should remain wary of such attempts.
For more insurance-specific tips and resources, visit www.piff.net/hurricanes.
The Personal Insurance Federation of Florida, Inc. (PIFF), is a leading voice for the personal lines property and casualty insurance industry in Florida. PIFF represents national insurance carriers and their subsidiaries, including many of the state’s top writers of private passenger auto and homeowners multiperil insurance. Together, PIFF members write more than $13 billion in premium in the state. PIFF advocates for a healthy and competitive insurance marketplace for the benefit of Florida consumers. Follow us @PIFFNews. Visit PIFF.net to learn more.