Here we go ’round and ’round again
For most of the year, Floridians are a happy-go-lucky lot. During the winter months, we enjoy the best weather in the country. We going boating, fishing, biking and walking without even peaking out the front door to see what’s going on. But starting on June 1, the most blissful of us enter into a defensive mode when old man sunshine can be replaced by the hurricane hag before we know it.
Hurricane season inevitably brings concerns about adequate insurance. If your homeowner’s insurance is with the state run Citizens Insurance Corporation, effective Jan. 1 of this year there was a major change in coverage qualifications. Last year, legislation was passed that mandates homeowners who are covered by Citizens for wind coverage to upgrade or install shutters or opening protections on their home in order to keep their Citizens’ policy. The state of Florida states that single family homes with an insured value of $750,000 or more will not be eligible for renewal coverage of their policies with Citizens unless the structure has storm shutter protection that complies with the Florida Building Code. The code requires hurricane shutters or opening protections that are up to current Florida code for all parts of the property in order to qualify for a new policy at renewal time.
I first wrote about this new legislation at the end of November last year, and by now, homeowners with insured values of $750,000 or more on their single family homes should have been advised about the necessity of upgrading their homes. The Florida code requires an upgrade or installation of storm shutters or other adequate opening protections for all parts of the property. In addition, the shutters or other protections must be installed by the 2009 policy expiration date along with proof of the upgrades in the form of a mitigation inspection before the policy is renewed. www.citizensfla.com, has a great deal of information if you have questions or concerns, but your primary source of advice is your insurance company or broker.
If you’re satisfied that your house is protected and your insurance is up-to-date, you can get down to the really important part of hurricane preparation – buying the manual can opener. You may also want to buy a few cans to go with the opener, along with bottled water and other non perishable food to last several days or a week in the event of power outages.
Have an evacuation plan ready. Know ahead of time where you, your family and your pets will go if you need to leave and plan on having extra cash and a full tank of gas. If you need to evacuate, take insurance policies or copies with you and store all other important paper work and valuables in your safe deposit box. Backup your desktop computer on an external hard drive and take dated digital pictures of everything in your home.
Every year at the beginning of hurricane season, we remind people of the same safeguards, but it’s easy to forget to get ready when the sun is shining and the waters are calm. Weather may be a non-issue most of the time but don’t rest on your winter laurels. There are still five months to get through before your Northern friends and family start lining up for your guest room. It would be nice if there’s still a room when they arrive.