Tropical Storm Eta
Florida’s west coast is now facing the fury of Tropical Storm Eta, which is currently moving in an erratic path to its fourth landfall. With heavy rainfall, squall winds, storm surge and tornadoes being forecast, the governor of Florida has declared a state of emergency in 13 counties of the state.
2020 has been the busiest Atlantic hurricane season on record, and Eta is the 28th storm to be given a name. After hitting Central America, Cuba and the upper Florida Keys, Eta is expected to fall north of Tampa Bay. A storm surge warning was issued for areas between Suwanee River and Bonita Beach, including Tampa Bay, and it was feared that water could rise by up to five feet.
Eta is no longer considered hurricane strength, and while we may find this a little comforting, the truth is that tropical storms can still cause property damage worth millions of dollars over a wide area. The wind, rain, and flooding that comes with a tropical storm usually leads to moderate, severe, or complete destruction of properties in its path.
The Danger to Homes
Tropical storms have the potential to cause major damage to homes. One of the reasons is the flying debris that can damage property. Shingles fly off roofs, and tree branches are knocked down. Power outages usually accompany storms, disrupting everyday lives, and businesses.
If the wind speeds are higher, they cause major roof and siding damage to houses, fallen trees, blocked roads, and widespread power outages. Yet higher wind speeds also lead to complete roofs being blown away, and power and water outages that may take days to restore. When wind speeds are even higher, typically accompanying category 4 or 5 hurricanes, we are likely to experience homes collapsing, poles and trees snapping, extended power outages, and possibly the devastation of entire towns.
While Florida residents are used to seeing heavy rain during storms, they have been surprised to experience hail during recent tropical storms. Hail has the potential to cause severe damage to roofs and other parts of your home. There is also a chance of tornadoes forming due to a storm, sometimes even hundreds of miles away from the eye of the storm. When the tropical storm makes landfall, the conditions for tornadoes to form are more conducive, as low-level winds begin to slow down due to interaction with the land. This leads to the creation of a vertical profile that may create a tornado. This dramatically increases the risk of damage to property in the storm-affected regions.
Water damage and excessive humidity in the structure can cause mold to start growing, and within as short a duration as 24 hours. While some types of damage are visible and will get your attention, you should also be aware of the possibility of hidden damage to your property. Flooding may cause contamination of the property due to viruses, bacteria, or chemicals that come in with the water.
If your commercial property is damaged, your income source could be disrupted, and if your home is uninhabitable, you may need alternate accommodation.
Insurance Coverage for Your Property
If you live in Florida, you need to have the right insurance coverage to protect your home from hurricanes or storms. Insurers will not allow you to buy a policy if there is already a hurricane watch. Typically homeowners or renters insurance policies do cover damage from storms, but the one exception is flooding. You need a separate flood insurance policy for that.
So a standard homeowner’s policy will typically include cover for wind, hail, fire, lightning, or if the pipes in your home burst.
You need to be aware that if you live in a region prone to hurricanes, such as the east coast or the gulf coast, some insurers may exclude or limit coverage for hurricane damage. In this case, you should compare different insurance providers in order to get this coverage, or you may need to buy a windstorm policy separately.
As flood damage is not part of standard home insurance policies, you need to purchase a flood insurance policy. While these are primarily sold through the National Flood Insurance Program (NIFP), some private insurers also offer them.
Whether it’s a flash flood, a coastal flood, a river flood, or a storm surge from a hurricane, your homeowner’s policy will not provide protection, and the flood insurance policy is essential.
If your home is damaged by a storm, it may not be in a condition fit for you to inhabit it. You will need temporary accommodation, so it’s important that your insurance policy has a provision for this expense.
A combination of factors has led to the average homeowner’s insurance cost in Florida – $3643, to be 58% higher than the national average of $1338, according to Insurance.com.
Filing a Tropical Storm Damage Claim
If your home or commercial property is damaged by Tropical Storm Eta, your top priority will be to see to the safety of your family and yourself. Next, you need to file an insurance claim to recover your losses and receive a settlement that will enable you to repair or rebuild your property.
While you hope that this will be a simple case of submitting a claim and receiving a check, the reality is usually very different.
Your insurer may send an adjuster to discuss your claim and view the damaged property. You need to be aware that this individual is hired by the insurance company and will try to offer the lowest possible settlement against your claim.
As a tropical storm damage insurance claim is complex and may involve long-drawn negotiations with the insurance company, it is best for you to hire your own public adjuster.
Reach out to us at Experienced Public Adjusters, and we will handle the entire documentation, filing, and negotiation process for you. We will understand your insurance policy and represent you until you receive the best possible settlement.
You pay us only a portion of the settlement you receive, and you will surely find this to be well worth it, for the better recovery and lower hassle for you.