TAMPA — Severe weather like hurricanes can wreak havoc on your home, damage your vehicle, and sidetrack your summer vacation. That’s why AAA is sharing its top insurance policies for hurricane season to help Floridians protect their property and travel plans. But first, The Auto Club Group is releasing new findings from its annual hurricane season survey.
According to the survey, about 1-in-5 Florida residents (19%) do NOT make advanced preparations for hurricane season or severe weather. Even more concerning, 24% say they would ignore warnings to evacuate in the event of a hurricane. Of those who would evacuate, more than half (56%) say they would not leave their homes unless an approaching hurricane was a category 3 or stronger.
Why Floridians would ignore evacuation warnings:
• 40% − Want to stay in case there’s damage to their home or property that they can fix.
• 30% − Can’t bring their pets/Don’t have a safe option for them.
• 22% − Believe the storm will turn away from their direction.
• 17% − Fear of looting after the storm.
• 15% − Financial reasons (e.g., can’t afford a hotel).
“Staying in the path of a potentially deadly storm is just not worth the risk,” said Mark Jenkins, Public Relations Manager for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Take steps now to develop an evacuation plan for your family and pets. If you’re worried about property damage, contact your insurance advisor. Having adequate coverage will give you the peace-of-mind in knowing that anything damaged while you’re gone can be repaired or replaced.”
Hurricanes and severe weather can severely damage everything from your home to your travel plans. Here are some important coverages to consider this hurricane season:
• Homeowner’s insurance covers your property from wind damage. It DOES NOT cover flood damage created by rising water that enters your home.
• Flood insurance is a separate policy. This DOES cover losses created by rising water that enters your home. This is an annual policy with a 30-day waiting period on new activations.
• Comprehensive auto coverage helps if a tree falls on your vehicle, or it is damaged by flooding or hail. Vehicle damage is not automatically covered under your homeowner’s policy.
• Travel insurance is important for anyone planning a summer or fall vacation. If severe weather interferes with your travel plans, there are travel insurance policies that reimburse you for covered losses associated with flight delays and cancellations. They can also provide partial or full reimbursement of non-refundable deposits on hotels, cruises and excursions.
• Review your Insurance Coverage. Review your homeowner’s insurance with your licensed agent to determine if you have adequate protection. Discuss your deductibles and ensure any recent home upgrades like pools, screen enclosures, and fences are covered.
• Store your insurance and flood policy numbers on your phone. Document your insurance provider’s phone number for filing a claim.
• Understand the various methods for filing a claim. Find out if your provider allows you to file a claim on a website or mobile app. Doing so can speed up the filing process, as high demand can result in long wait times over the phone.
• Take Home Inventory. Document your belongings by walking through your home with a video camera or smart phone. Keep a record of large purchases including receipts, the cost of the item, purchase date, and model and serial numbers.
• Store important documents in a portable waterproof container. Documents could include birth certificates, social security cards, insurance policy information, and more.
Flooding is the most common and costly natural disaster in the United States. The historic flooding earlier this year in South Florida is a reminder that it doesn’t take a hurricane to cause catastrophic flood damage. It’s also proof you don’t have to live in a high-risk flood zone to experience flooding.
“Even if your property is not considered ‘high risk’, remember that flooding can happen anywhere in Florida. All it takes is the right amount of rainfall to put your property in peril,” said Jennifer Pintacuda, President of AAA’s Florida-based insurance companies. “During the past year, Floridians who were living far away from the coast experienced severe flooding. Storms can be unpredictable. Hurricanes can stall overhead. That’s why we encourage all Floridians to consider a flood insurance policy. But act now. If you wait until a storm forms, it could be too late.”
There is a 30-day waiting period for all new flood insurance policies issued through FEMA. However, more than half of survey respondents (52%) were not aware of that.
According to AAA’s survey, 67% of Floridians do not have flood insurance. The reasons cited were:
• 57% − I do not live in a flood zone.
• 34% − I have never had flooding problems before.
• 24% − It’s too expensive.
• 9% − I have homeowner’s insurance, that should be enough.
• On average, flooding causes more than $5 billion in damage nationwide each year.
• In 2022, the National Flood Insurance Program validated more than 54,000 claims, providing more than $1.6 billion in policy coverage.
• Hurricane Ian resulted in more than 46,000 claims and $1.5 billion in policy coverage.
• Nearly 40% of all flood insurance claims come from homes which are not considered high-risk flood zones.
• Flood losses are costly. One inch of water in your home can cost $25,000 or more to repair.
• From 2016-2021, flood insurance policyholders received an average claim payment of $68,000, which never has to be repaid.
• Without flood insurance, homeowners could apply for federal disaster assistance via a loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Unlike claims payments for flood insurance SBA loans must be repaid.
• Flood insurance rates are based on each individual property’s characteristics, including the flood frequency, elevation, distance from a water source and cost to rebuild.