If your home or business suffered damage as a result of Hurricane Irma here in Florida, it is important for you to understand your insurance policies and how to pursue a claim if your house is damaged or destroyed. It is too late to change a policy now if it does not cover all the damages you expect to sustain, but you can still hold your insurer responsible for what you are entitled to.
While the Tampa Bay area has been spared the destruction of a severe hurricane thus far this summer, it is important to remember that hurricane season in the Atlantic does not end officially until November. According to a recent report from CBS 10 News, a new study suggests that the Tampa Bay area may be most susceptible to damage from a truly devastating hurricane. With rising sea levels and climate change occurring, West Central Florida appears to be more vulnerable-and perhaps among the most vulnerable areas in the state-to catastrophic damage from a major hurricane.
For years, Florida residents enjoyed summer after summer of hurricane-free weather. That was until Hurricane Matthew broke the cycle in 2016. While many thought they were covered, some discovered far too late that their coverage wasn't enough.
National and local weather agencies are taking additional steps to help Florida residents better comprehend the risks associated with tropical cyclones. Beginning with the 2017 hurricane season (which starts June 1), the National Hurricane Center will issue storm surge alerts, with maps of affected areas.
Even though Hurricane Matthew has been downgrade to a category 3 hurricane, the storm is still expected to cause considerable damage all along Florida's east coast. With winds expected to reach 120 mph and a storm surge that has already caused flooding in northeast Florida, says one Weather Channel article, it's already starting to look bad for home and business owners in our state.
Residents of West Florida recently braced as Hurricane Hermine plowed into the Gulf of Mexico. Shifting rapidly from a tropical depression to a hurricane, the storm threatened to do significant hurricane damage to Florida's Gulf Coast. As a recent article in USA Today pointed out, Hermine was the first hurricane to make landfall in Florida in 11 years. It touched down as a Category 1 hurricane "just south of Apalachicola, Fla., dumped heavy rain, and sustained winds of 80 miles per hour," the article reported. While the maximum sustained winds reached only 80 miles per hour, gusts of up to 100 miles per hour were recorded. The last hurricane to strike Florida was Hurricane Wilma, which made landfall in 2005.
In the middle of winter, most Floridians are not yet thinking about the risks associated with hurricane season and the need to prepare our homes for impending bad weather. However, according to a recent article in Tampa Bay Newspapers Weekly, the winter months are as good a time as any to prepare for severe weather and hurricane insurance claims. Indeed, the last week in February has been deemed Severe Weather Awareness Week, during which local emergency management services partner with the National Weather Service to raise awareness about the risks of property and bodily damage in Florida when severe weather strikes.
Even though it is winter in Florida (and well outside the time period for anticipating a hurricane), it is never too early to think about whether your home and personal property are prepared for the start of hurricane season. The National Hurricane Center makes clear that hurricane season runs from June 1st through November 30th, and as such Southwest Florida residents do not need to worry about the risk of hurricane damage during the winter months. However, according to an article from CBS Moneywatch, some aspects of hurricane preparation can take months. It is never too early to begin preparing your home for one of these devastating storms.