Before the storm
Contact an insurance agent for the protection level you choose and can afford.
Update existing policies to reflect purchases, improvements and property value adjustments.
Be sure to consult the flood insurance rate maps, your mortgage lender or agent to see how recent flood category changes affected your flood insurance needs. In thousands of cases, lenders will be requiring flood insurance this year.
Create a file containing information about all of your possessions and keep it in a secure place, such as a safe deposit box or waterproof container. This file should have a copy of your insurance policies, agent’s contact information, plus an inventory of property with a videotaped or photographed record of all major items and valuables. Include serial numbers and store receipts for major appliances and electronics. Have jewelry and artwork appraised.
NAPLES — Making sure your property insurance is in order before the storm can make all of the difference after a storm.
Hurricane season, which began Friday, is an important time to make sure you know what your insurance covers — and what it doesn't.
This year in Collier County, it's also important to learn the details of changes in flood risks based on the 2012 FEMA flood insurance rate maps that went into effect May 16. New changes to the maps were announced Friday with more specific information to be released by June 14 that could ease the need for new flood insurance policies for thousands in Collier.
Since half of the year is hurricane season, June through November, and the peak of that season lasts three months, August through October, it's good to know your risks and how to protect yourself and your property.
"Flooding is the most common and most costly natural disaster in the U.S. Many people don't know that flooding is not covered by their homeowner's insurance," FEMA spokeswoman Mary Olsen said.
There isn't a standard category of insurance for hurricane coverage. Standard home insurance may cover against wind in the case of the hurricane, but usually doesn't cover against flood and storm surge.
Renters also may want insurance for their personal property, even if their building is protected by the landlord's insurance.
If you want to be sure to protect your car, you may need comprehensive automobile coverage rather than the more common auto liability insurance, which covers the vehicle in case of a collision.
Insurance companies, including the government-operated Citizens Property Insurance Corp., which is Florida's primary provider, often stop writing new policies or making changes once the National Weather Service announces a tropical storm or hurricane threat to Florida. Policies generally take 30 days to go into effect.
Coverage options to consider include the cost to replace items versus current value, because it can be more expensive in many cases to replace items. Insurance experts suggest you check whether your policy covers expenses if you are evacuated or if it is unsafe to return to your home.
Business owners may want to consider coverage for expenses should a storm render their business inoperable.
Many policies don't cover loss of cash or valuable papers. Outdoor property, such as trees, septic systems, decks and fences, aren't always covered.
Florida home insurance rates vary greatly based on several factors. The higher the deductible, the lower the rates and it's best to prepare by having the deductible amount set aside. Deductibles may range from 1 percent to 5 percent of your property's value.
Furthermore, insurance experts said, it is the property owner's responsibility to have performed any maintenance necessary to protect the home.
When disaster strikes:
It is your responsibility to take reasonable precautions to protect your home from damage. If water is pouring in from a hole in the roof or a broken window, covering those with wood or plastic may prevent further loss until a proper repair can be made. Take photos of the damage before and after making temporary repairs.
Don’t throw away damaged items until an adjuster visits the property. If you are evacuated or must leave for safety reasons, be sure to contact your insurance agent as soon as possible.
File insurance claims as quickly as possible. Be aware of time limits and make your notification in writing as soon as possible. Also, if your home is uninhabitable after the storm, keep all receipts for food, lodging and travel. If your property is evacuated, yet it wasn’t damaged, check to see if your insurance covers this and what the deductible is.
Record all damage with photos and videos to submit to the insurance company.