If a hurricane struck Florida tomorrow, would you be ready? A new AAA survey reveals that many residents would not be:
¦ 43% of Floridians do not have an emergency plan.
¦ 29% would not evacuate their home if they were warned to.
¦ 60% of Floridians who would evacuate would only leave for a Category 3 hurricane or greater.
“Don’t wait until Florida is in the cone of uncertainty — get ready now,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Gather supplies while they’re still on the shelves, develop an evacuation plan, and prepare your home.”
Part of your home preps should include a careful review of your insurance policies. Unfortunately, some Florida homeowners will soon be shopping for a new provider, as some in-state insurers are reportedly dropping 50,000 policies.
“I can’t think of a worse time to be left without homeowner’s insurance than during hurricane season,” said Jennifer Pintacuda, president of AAA’s Florida-based property insurance provider Auto Club Insurance Company of Florida. “AAA encourages all Floridians to meet with a licensed insurance agent and ensure your policy is active and with a financially sound carrier. Since coverage levels can vary based on your property and individual needs, it is all the more reason to go with a provider you can trust.”
The two biggest sources of hurricane damage are wind and torrential rain resulting in flooding. Flooding is the number one disaster in the United States.
“It doesn’t matter where you live in Florida — every zone can be a flood zone when a hurricane storms through,” Ms. Pintacuda said. “There’s a 30-day waiting period on all new flood insurance policies. So don’t wait until a storm approaches or it will be too late.”
Here are some facts about Florida flooding and flood insurance:
¦ Nearly 20% of all flood insurance claims come from homes in low risk zones.
¦ Most home insurance policies do not cover flood damages.
¦ Federal disaster assistance is not compensation for your losses, it is a low-interest loan.
¦ Flood losses are costly. One inch of water can cost you $27,000 or more to repair.
¦ Only 13% of Florida households have flood insurance, though many more households are at imminent risk of flooding.
¦ New research shows more than 100,000 additional Florida properties are at substantial risk of flooding compared to FEMA’s flood maps.
¦ $69,000 was the average flood claim from 2005-2020.
A “preferred risk” flood insurance policy can cost around a dollar a day for coverage of $75,000 in structural damage and $30,000 for damage to contents inside the home.
Here are some things people can do right now to prepare for any potential storm:
¦ Secure your home. Inspect your home for minor repairs needed to roof, windows, down spouts, etc. Trim trees or bushes that could cause damage to your home in case of high winds.
¦ Take inventory. Update your home inventory by walking through your home with a video camera or smart phone. Keep a record of large purchases including the cost of the item, date purchased, and model and serial numbers as available. Store important documents in a portable waterproof container.
¦ Stock emergency supplies. Plan for a week’s worth of non-perishable food and water. Be sure to have flashlights, extra batteries, battery-powered radio, medications, first aid kit, blankets, toiletries, diapers, cleaning supplies, etc. Prepare a portable kit to keep in your car should you need to evacuate.
¦ Identify a safe room. Identify a room where family members should gather, in case of emergency. This is typically an interior room with no windows.
¦ Protect your property. Review your homeowners insurance with your licensed insurance agent to determine if you have adequate protection. Discuss your deductibles. Be aware that flood insurance is not typically covered under your homeowner’s policy. Flooding coverage for your automobile is available via an optional “comprehensive” inclusion to your auto insurance policy.
¦ Make a contact plan. Identify ways to contact your family members, alternate meeting locations, and an out-of-town contact person. Anticipate limited cell phone service.
¦ Know your evacuation route. Visit www.FloridaDisaster.org to track the recommended evacuation route for your region.
¦ Choose multiple destinations. Identify several places you will go in an emergency, such as a friend’s home, in another town, a hotel or shelter. Choose destinations in different directions so you have options during an emergency.
¦ Research shelter availability. Check with local officials about the availability of evacuation shelters. Your regular shelter may not open this year due to COVID-19. If you evacuate to a community shelter, follow the latest guidelines from the CDC.
¦ Prepare your pets. Identify a place to stay that will accept pets. Most public shelters allow only service animals.
¦ Prepare your vehicle for evacuation. Have your vehicle professionally inspected so it’s ready for evacuation. Plan to take one car per family to reduce congestion and delay.
¦ Gas up. If an evacuation seems likely, ensure you have a full tank of gas. Fuel responsibly. Do not hoard gasoline you do not need. The pre-storm surge in gasoline demand often leads to temporary fuel outages before the storm. After the storm, be aware that gas stations may be closed or unable to pump gas due to structural damage or power outages. As a result, AAA suggests you begin looking for a refueling option after your tank drops below half full.
The AAA Consumer Pulse Survey was conducted online among residents living in Florida from March 12-18. A total of 400 residents completed the survey. Survey results asked of all respondents have a maximum margin of error of +/- 4.9% points. Responses are weighted by age and gender to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the adult population (18+) in Florida. ¦
— The Auto Club Group is the second largest AAA club in North America with more than 14 million members across 14 U. S. states, the province of Quebec and two U. S. territories. ACG and its affiliates provide members with roadside assistance, insurance products, banking and financial services, travel offerings and more. For more information, visit www.AAA.com.