As we write this, Hurricane Irma was on its way to the United States, bringing with it monstrous 200 mph winds.
As a hurricane damage public adjuster who works in Florida, it’s something we’re watching very closely.
Only four other Category 5 hurricanes in history have reached U.S. shores, and only one Atlantic storm – Hurricane Allen in 1980 – had winds that were higher. Irma is so strong, USA Today reported, that it’s showing up on machinery used to measure earthquakes.
What is a Category 5 hurricane?
Meteorologists grade hurricanes according to the Saffin-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which measures storms solely according to wind speed. Anything with winds higher than 157 mph is designated a Category 5 hurricane.
According to the National Weather Service, a Category 5 storm means that catastrophic hurricane damage will take place:
“A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possible months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.”
What does my insurance cover?
If you live in Florida, we understand the safety of your family is your primary concern. But it’s likely you’re also thinking about your insurance policy, and wondering whether it covers hurricane damage.
Unfortunately, this can be tricky. Florida has been struck by seven of the 10 most costly hurricanes in American history, six of which hit in the span of two years.
As a result, many insurers have drastically upped their flood and hurricane insurance rates for Floridians, while others have simply stopped doing business in the Sunshine State.
Complicating matters even further is the fact that most homeowner insurance policies cover the damage from the hurricane’s wind, but not flood damage.
Floods lead to water damage, as well as mold. Getting rid of that mold is unlikely to be covered by your homeowner policy, as it’s a result of the flooding.
That’s why Florida homeowners need a flood insurance policy that offers catastrophic coverage to your home and belongings. And such policies are rarely inexpensive.
How do I get flood insurance?
Homeowners can purchase extra flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is operated by FEMA.
But these policies are limited to $250,000 for residences and $500,000 for commercial properties.
In Florida, there are 20 insurance companies that write excess or primary flood insurance in addition to the NFIP.
It’s also worth noting that the NFIP is under severe strain. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the program is headed to a $1.4 billion shortfall after underestimating the cost of claims by $1.1 billion.
The remaining $300 million is because the cost of providing discounted rates for some policies cost more than the receipts from surcharges created to help cover the cost of those discounts.
Floridians can also access the state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, which covers home-owners who are either in high-risk areas or who can’t find private insurance.
How can a Florida public adjuster help?
Whether your home has been hit with flooding or wind damage, having a hurricane damage public adjuster on your side after a hurricane can make all the difference in the world, regardless of the type of insurance you have.
You need someone on your side to identify damage that might not be immediately obvious to you, and to help you navigate the intricacies of your insurance policies. An experienced hurricane damage public adjuster has the expertise to value your claim, estimate the extent of your damage, and help make your case to your insurance carrier.
Hurricane season can be frightening, but you don’t have to face it alone. The experts at Interstate Public Adjusters can help you recover. We are licensed to practice in Florida – as well as New Jersey and Pennsylvania – and are ready to help you rebuild. Contact us today to learn more.