With the summer of 2019 in full swing across America, all of us in the insurance claims business recognize that hurricane season is right around the corner.
By: Michael Perlmuter, Esq (President and General Counsel)
Alex N. Sill Company, LLC
North America’s Leading Public Adjuster and Loss Consultant
With the summer of 2019 in full swing across America, all of us in the insurance claims business recognize that hurricane season is right around the corner. And who can possibly forget the widespread damage caused in Texas and the Caribbean in 2017 with 17 named storms, 10 hurricanes, and 6 major hurricanes including Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. In the southeastern US in 2018 there were 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes including Hurricanes Florence and Michael that struck the Carolinas and the Florida Panhandle, respectively.
While the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration is predicting a near normal Atlantic hurricane season in 2019, we have already seen early activity in the Gulf of Mexico and Louisiana with Tropical Storm/Hurricane Barry in mid-July. For 2019, the NOAA predicts a likely range of 9-15 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 4 to 8 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 2 to 4 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5, with winds of 111 mph or higher). This prediction is on the heels of the federal government enacting a $19.1 billion relief package, just this past June, to help US towns and cities still recovering from last year’s natural disasters. Even before that, 2018 had already drawn more emergency funding than any year since 2005, which was the costliest year on record.
Claims Journal reports that the US is more vulnerable to economic damage from natural disasters than any other nation for reasons that include its size and location (including two long ocean coastlines and its propensity for tornadoes), as well as liberal local real estate development policies that permit building along coastlines at sea level. As we look forward to 2019 and beyond, rising sea levels and repetitive “100 year” rain storms, will undoubtedly lead to potentially more damaging and expensive “natural” disasters in the years to come.
What Preparation Should You Do for a Hurricane?
Below are several things to consider in your preparation for hurricane season:
- Sign up for local alerts and warnings
- Prepare to evacuate by testing your emergency communication plan, learn your evacuation route(s), and find a shelter near you at gov/mobile-app
- Prepare for the entire household, including children, any disabled and pets
- Keep the gas tank fully filled
- Stock emergency supplies such as snacks, bottled water, first aid kit, flashlight, flares, jumper cables and other tools, woolen blankets, and a change of clothes (a “go bag”) in your evacuation vehicle
- Review your property insurance policy to understand coverages, limits, and exclusions
- Know where you will all meet up if you get separated, including picking an out of state contact that everyone can call in to check in and report their status
What Action Should You Take to Protect Your Property?
There are several damaging forces that you should be preparing for when a hurricane is approaching and those are high winds and flood waters. Here are several ideas for preparation.
You should note that most property insurance policies do not cover flood losses, so you will need to purchase separate flood insurance if your property is at risk from flooding. Flood insurance is available through the National Flood Insurance Program NFIP in participating communities. Keep in mind that a policy will take 30 days to go into effect.
What You Should Do During the Storm?
The likelihood of a similar disaster whether caused by fire, wind damage, hurricane, tornado, water damage or other covered natural disaster may seem remote to most property owners (as I’m certain it did for the Catholic Diocese of Paris regarding Notre Dame). However, that should not stop you from putting a plan in place for an unlikely catastrophic occurrence.
- Follow guidance from local authorities
- If your area is susceptible to flooding, move to higher ground. Don’t walk or drive on flooded roads or through water
- If you haven’t evacuated, stay away from windows and seek shelter on the lowest level in an interior room
- Call 9-1-1 if you are in life-threatening danger
What Should You Do for Post-Hurricane Clean Up?
- Return to the area only after authorities say it is safe to do so. Do not enter buildings until they are inspected by qualified professionals
- Stay away from downed powerlines
- Use appropriate protective equipment to avoid injury from possible exposure to mold and bacteria
- Do not use any electrical equipment that has been submerged in water
- Air out by opening all doors and windows whenever you are present
- Throw out any food, including canned items that were not maintained at a proper temperature or that have been exposed to floodwaters. Avoid drinking tap water until you know it is safe. If uncertain, boil or purify first
- Contact your insurance agent to report your loss asap. As stated above, it is important that you understand what events are covered and what events aren’t covered when reporting your loss
- Contact a professional Public Adjuster licensed in your state experienced in evaluating your insurance coverages, extensions, limitations, and exclusions, which can prepare detailed loss estimates for your building and contents, and adjust the loss on your behalf directly with your insurance company PRIOR to: 1) removing and throwing out damaged contents or tearing out any damaged portions of the building (such as flooring, paneling, drywall, etc.), or 2) hiring a restoration company to do anything other than immediate emergency remediation
If you have been impacted by a hurricane and need support in reviewing your policy, documenting your losses, navigating the legal aspects or filing your claim, Sill Company has a team of experienced professionals that are ready to help you today. Contact one of our loss specialists today to start your claim and regain your pre-hurricane normal. To learn more about the hurricane solutions Sill Company provides and how a public adjuster can help you visit our hurricane solutions page or read more about maximizing hurricane claims.