TAMPA — As Tropical Storm Idalia churns toward Florida, insurance experts at AAA – The Auto Club Group are providing important advice to help residents prepare their families and property.
“Now is the time to gather supplies, fortify your home and document your belongings,” said Jennifer Pintacuda, President of AAA’s Florida-based insurance providers. “It’s also important to collect your insurance policy information and phone numbers for your agent and provider, so you’ll know who to contact in the event you need to file a claim.”
AAA provides the following insurance advice:
• Review your home insurance policies. Contact your provider to ensure you have adequate coverage for any damages. If you do not have flood insurance, it’s too late to get a new policy for this storm.
• Check your auto insurance policy to ensure you have “comprehensive” coverage. This helps with vehicle damage like flooding or if a tree falls on it.
• Store important documents in a portable waterproof container. Documents could include insurance policy information, birth certificates, social security cards, and more.
• Take Inventory. Document your belongings by walking through your home with a video camera or smart phone. Keep a record of large purchases including the cost of the item, purchase date, and model and serial numbers.
• Protect your home. Bring in loose items like patio furniture, bikes and children’s toys – which could all turn into dangerous projectiles in strong winds.
• Trim trees near your house. Ensure you have materials to make sandbags and board up windows, if necessary.
Develop an Evacuation Plan and Be Ready to Execute It
A 2023 survey of Floridians found that one-in-five (20%) would evacuate their home for a Category 2 storm or higher. More than a quarter (27%) would leave for a Category 3 hurricane or stronger.
Meanwhile, almost a quarter (24%) of Floridians say they’d ignore evacuation orders. The top reasons they’d stay: in case there’s damage they can repair (40%), can’t bring their pets (30%), believe the storm will turn away from their direction (22%).
“Staying home in the path of a dangerous storm is not worth the risk,” Pintacuda said. “Having adequate insurance coverage should give you the peace of mind in evacuating, knowing that any property damage you sustain would be repaired.”
AAA’s Evacuation Advice
• Identify multiple destinations in case the storm shifts or roads are closed.
• Reserve a hotel room early, if needed. Hotels along evacuation routes often fill up fast due to high demand. If you are traveling with pets, be advised that some properties may loosen restrictions to be more accommodating to evacuees.
• Pack important documents like insurance policies, marriage and birth certificates.
• Bring enough food, water and supplies for each family member, including pets.
• If you are evacuating, leave early. Last minute evacuees often find congested highways and long lines at filling stations, which could result in temporary fuel outages.
• Follow the advice of local authorities and leave if instructed to.
• Before you go, turn off all utilities and unplug every electrical item in the home, to minimize the risk of a fire.
Safety Tips for Drivers
AAA urges drivers to be patient and courteous of others on the road. Tensions are likely to be high with an approaching storm, but getting in a crash would only make matters worse.
AAA provides the following tips for drivers:
When driving in the rain, AAA advises:
• Increase your following distance
• Turn your headlights on
• Turn your hazard lights off
• Avoid using cruise control
• Avoid flooded areas
• If visibility is poor, pull over to a safe place and wait until the rain eases up