Gulfshore Insurance > Gulfshore Blog > Disaster

Go ahead and blame Mother Nature for the things that can go terribly wrong at one’s home. Just not all of them. Damage caused by punishing weather — wind, hail, and rain — accounted for more than half of all homeowners insurance claims over the past six years, but there were other culprits as well, such as fire, leaky pipes, and theft.

The findings are contained in a new study which identified the most common and most expensive homeowners insurance claims based on a review of thousands of claims filed with the company from 2009 to 2015. The most common claims were for:

  1. Exterior wind damage – 25% of all losses
  2. Non-weather-related water damage (e.g., plumbing or appliance issues) – 19%
  3. Hail – 15%
  4. Weather-related water damage – 11%
  5. Theft – 6%

Any number of things can go wrong with a home, and it’s impossible to predict them all. However, if homeowners focus on these particularly common risks and take preventive steps and perform routine maintenance, it may help lessen the likelihood of damage.

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Though the Atlantic hurricane season starts each year on June 1st, emergency planning should generally be a year-round priority; especially if you own a business in Florida. Seven of the ten costliest hurricanes in U.S. history have impacted Florida, six of them occurring within just two years (2004 and 2005). Florida has been fortunate in recent years, but hurricane season is no time to become complacent about being prepared for a storm.

Statistics from the U.S. Small Business Administration show that many businesses are not prepared to respond to a natural disaster. One in four businesses that close because of a disaster coming, never reopen. Small businesses are particularly at risk because typically they have one location – the one that is damaged or destroyed. So, what should business owners located in hurricane-prone areas do to make sure they are ready for a potential storm? The Insurance Information Institute recommends that we be proactive by implementing the following steps:

Developing a Business Continuity Plan: When developing a Business Continuity Plan, share the plan with employees, assign responsibilities, and offer training so your workforce can collaborate in the recovery of the business. Conduct regular drills to assess and improve response.

Maintain Key Information Offsite: To get your business up and operating after a disaster, you’ll need to be able to access critical business information. In addition to backing up computer data, keep an offsite list of your insurance policies, banking information and phone numbers of employees, key customers, vendors and suppliers, your insurance professional and others. If you have a back-up site make sure it’s sufficiently far away so as not to be affected by the same risks that threaten the primary location.

Take a Business Inventory: Creating a business inventory includes listing all business equipment, supplies and merchandise—and don’t forget to include commercial vehicles.

Review Your Insurance Coverage: The time to review your insurance policy is before disaster strikes and you have to file a claim. It is important that your business have both the right amount and type of insurance for its needs and risk profile. Our insurance professionals at Gulfshore Insurance can assist you by providing you with a complete “checkup” of your insurance exposures and guidance on risk and insurance matters. We help build the right insurance and risk management programs to fully protect your assets.

Inquiring Homeowners Want to Know…
“Will I incur a separate deductible when we experience destructive winter weather events such as the recent tornados in Cape Coral, Fort Myers, and Coconut Creek or winter storm Jonas that hit several southern states hard and brought high wind gusts to the Jacksonville, Florida area?”

In most cases, the answer is “NO” and the reason is many of us have a “Hurricane” or “Named Storm” high deductible.  In these cases, the deductible only applies if there is a Hurricane Watch or Warning issued for any part of Florida, and that did not happen.

However, if your policy has a “Wind Deductible” then yes, your high deductible would apply to damage incurred from the recent weather events.

 

NFIPBACKGROUND
Biggert-Waters 2012 is a comprehensive piece of legislation affecting the National Flood Insurance Program. The biggest piece of legislation included in this reform act is that the NFIP’s authority has been extended until 2017. As the law is implemented, some of the changes have already occurred, and others will be implemented in the coming months. Key provisions of the legislation will require the NFIP to raise rates to reflect true flood risk, make the program more financially stable, and change how Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) updates impact policyholders. It is important to remember that there will be many changes to the program in the coming months and even years. These changes will make it vitally important to stay informed.

KEY FACTS:

  • Approximately 5.5 million flood insurance policies are provided through the National Flood Insurance Program and administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
  • FEMA sets pricing for NFIP flood insurance policies. This means premiums and rates are identical regardless of agent or insurance carrier.
  • Premiums for many properties have been subsidized since the program’s inception.
  • Since 1978, the NFIP has paid out over $40 billion dollars in claims.

WHAT IS CHANGING?

  • The intent of the NFIP was for the program to be self-supporting, meaning premiums would cover the amount of claims paid and administrative costs.
  • However, substantial claims associated with recent flooding events such as Superstorm Sandy and Hurricanes Katrina and Ike required the NFIP to borrow additional funds from the U.S. Treasury, resulting in billions of dollars of debt for the NFIP.
  • The primary goal of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act is to make the NFIP more financially sound.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THOSE AFFECTED?

  • Subsidized rates are being phased out. If your property’s flood insurance rate is considered subsidized, you will more than likely have a new premium.

Gulfshore Insurance has gathered together FAQs, fact sheets, and other resources that detail the impact the Act and the NFIP reforms may have:

FEMA Fact Sheet: Impact of NFIP Changes
Homeowners Guide to Elevation Certificates
Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012: Questions and Answers

Hurricane ShuttersDid you know that certain requirements may apply if you have wind mitigation opening protection credits on your insurance policy?  You must close and secure shutters or other opening protection devices when a Hurricane Watch or Warning has been issued from the National Weather Service.

Chubb and Citizens Property Insurance Corp. include an “opening protection requirement” in their policy contract which requires hurricane protection devices must be closed and secured during a hurricane watch or warning issued by the National Weather Service’s Hurricane Center.

Failure to comply with this requirement may result in a reduced loss payment if a claim is submitted for damages due to windstorm or hail during a Hurricane Watch or Warning.

For more hurricane and disaster related articles, click here.

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