It’s official: the Atlantic hurricane season is here. It’s that time of year again to reconsider the pitfalls of not being ready to weather a serious storm.
There are many markets that have not experienced a major hurricane in several years; South Florida has been spared since Hurricane Wilma in 2005. In areas that have experienced this lull, we are seeing consumers and businesses taking an increasingly lax approach to preparedness and protection. While the National Hurricane Center predicted a below-average Atlantic hurricane season, they still expect between three to six hurricanes this year, with two or three being major.
Are customers properly insured?
One of the most important planning factors for customers to consider is to make sure they properly insure valuables. However, people and businesses need to begin planning now to prepare for any potential aftermath and minimize damages, and not wait until there is an impending national disaster — a mistake that is commonly made.
Here are some smart tips to help people and businesses take hurricane season by storm by being properly prepared.
It is important to read an updated copy of one’s insurance policy. This simple to-do can often be overlooked, but it’s imperative to ensure that the insurance covers structural loss caused by natural disasters. Remind customers that flooding damages are not covered by standard policies and need to be added on for those living in an area that is more prone to flooding.
Budget funds for deductibles
Customers should ensure they have funds budgeted to pay policy deductibles and post-catastrophe renewal premium increases. I frequently encounter businesses and families that budget less and less each year that goes by without a hurricane. Once the storm occurs, people are caught off guard by the spikes in insurance premiums. I advise all my clients to take reasonable precaution for these unpredictable scenarios that could result in significant financial burden post-storm.
Increase coverage — when possible
Advise clients not to miss the small window of opportunity to increase insurance coverage before a hurricane hits. It is common practice for individuals and businesses to wait until there is a major hurricane threatening their assets to request a coverage increase. What many do not know is that the window to do so is small; When storms get within a certain distance from the coast, insurance companies shut down “binding capabilities,” during which time changes to an existing policy can no longer be made nor can a new policy be purchased.
Advise customers to ensure that all key property and family information (insurance policies, financial records, identification details, home inventory, etc.) are stored in a safe and easy to access location. These essentials could be gone in a matter of seconds due to flooding. A waterproof safe is an ideal location to store documents.
The number one take-away is to effectively plan by casting a financial safety net through the proper insurance coverage. Not all plans are created equal. Consumers need to be educated on their options in advance of any natural disaster and every policy should be tailored to the needs of each individual or business.
Douglas Jones is co-founder and managing partner of JAG Insurance Group. Jones started his career in 2005 when he joined his father’s firm, today having more than a decade of industry expertise. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Florida International University and holds a 220 General Lines license and Surplus Lines Brokers license in Florida. He can be reached at DJones@jaginsgroup.com.