Hurricane Season extends from June 1st to November 30th, and affects all of us in Florida. Although tropical storms and hurricanes are unpreventable, you can take steps to prepare and protect your family and your home.
Those of us located in South Florida are more susceptible to flooding, which could pose additional obstacles following the passing of a hurricane or tropical storm. Flooding can be extremely dangerous, as the roads may not be drivable, and could damage your car if you attempt to drive through them. There may also be downed power lines that can be electrocution hazards if you come into contact with them.
Steps To Prepare
Take Videos & Photographs Inside Your Home
As a property owner, you should take videos and photographs of the inside of your home before any storm. Focus on the ceilings, walls, and floors that may develop cracks or leaks, and document the condition of doors and windows. You should also take an inventory and photographs of personal belongings that may get damaged or destroyed during a storm.
Document The Condition Of Your Roof, Too
Carefully get on your roof, or hire a professional to document the condition of the roof with videos and/or photographs. It is vital to document the condition of your property before a storm hits so insurance companies cannot claim the damages claimed were preexisting or long-term. The best ammunition you can use on your side is documentation that is timestamped which will demonstrate the condition of your property, at least as of the date that you took those photos and videos.
Secure Loose Objects From Your Yard
Bring in all loose objects from outside, such as potted plants, patio furniture, bicycles, grills, and garbage cans. Hurricane winds can turn these items into projectiles and further cause property damage by breaking windows or doors and potentially putting your safety at risk, as well as others. Cut any weak tree branches that can fall on your home or car. Install storm shutters or nail plywood panels to your windows and sliding glass doors to prevent breakage. Keep your pets indoors and have a two-week supply of pet food.
Gather Your Hurricane Preparedness Kit
Have a preparedness kit available, including extra batteries, flashlights, nonperishable items, and water. Purchase items before a warning is issued to get ahead of crowds and empty shelves at stores. Make a note of expiration dates and ensure everything is usable. Keep a first-aid kit at hand. Store all important documents in waterproof containers and out of reach of flood levels. These documents may include passports, social security cards, and insurance policies. Have a generator available in case the power goes out, but never use one indoors. You can also store water bottles in the freezer, which will freeze, and can act as homemade ice packs in the event that you lose power and need to keep certain perishable items refrigerated.
Have An Evacuation Plan In Place
Speak with your family about an evacuation plan. If your area is under an evacuation order, do not delay your departure. Make sure your car is fully tanked prior to the storm, as there may be a gas shortage or extremely long lines at the gas station. Research your local public shelters and bring essentials such as prescribed medication, toiletries, and identification. If you decide to evacuate to another city, state, or country, be prepared to experience traffic and flight delays. Do not leave pets alone at home, especially in an area with an evacuation order.
What To Do If Your Property Sustains Hurricane Damage
Unfortunately, even the most prepared homeowners and property owners may experience property damage as a result of a hurricane or a tropical storm. If you are one of the unfortunate ones to experience damage to your home, you can take a few steps to avoid further damage, and comply with your Policy’s duties and conditions.
If you suffer a roof leak during a Hurricane, be sure to place a bucket underneath the area that is exposed so that the water is contained and not damaging your flooring, baseboards, or furniture. After the storm passes, be sure to place a tarp on the roof until you can speak with a professional about reporting a claim to your insurance company.
This is the preferred option of mitigating damages under your Policy, but you may also contact a roofer to perform a temporary repair like a patch to prevent further leaks, although if you do this, you may be prejudicing the insurance company from inspecting the condition of the roof prior to the repairs. As such, if you do choose this option, make sure the roofer takes photos and videos before beginning the repair so that you can present that documentation to your insurance company.
Take all these steps to prepare you for hurricane season. If you encounter property damage due to a tropical storm or hurricane, and your insurance claim has been denied or underpaid, contact Gelber Law Group, P.A., your experienced South Florida hurricane lawyers, to assist you for a free consultation at 954-320-0100.