Don’t wait! Prepare now for hurricane season

TALLAHASSEE — Hurricane season began June 1 and extends through Nov. 30, 2019. While forecasters are calling for a slightly below-average hurricane season, the American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA) encourages Floridians to take time now to evaluate their insurance policies, inventory their possessions and develop emergency plans.

“Last year, two major hurricanes — Florence and Michael — caused significant damage to the Carolinas and Florida Panhandle,” said Logan McFaddin, Florida regional manager for APCIA. “Unfortunately, too many residents in the region still do not give the beginning of hurricane season enough thought, or take action to prepare their homes and finances. That is why we at APCIA are encouraging Floridians to take steps now to give yourself peace of mind and the confidence that you’re prepared financially for a major storm or emergency event.”

APCIA offers the following hurricane preparation tips for residents living in hurricane-prone areas:

• Review and assess your insurance policy. Talk with your insurance company or agent about your insurance policy to make sure you understand what is covered and to evaluate whether you have adequate coverage. Consider additional coverage options, such as flood insurance. There is typically a 30-day waiting period between the date of purchase and when flood coverage takes effect, so it’s important to secure coverage before storms threaten your area.

• Conduct a home inventory. Create a digital or paper inventory of your home’s contents. Include receipts, descriptions, estimated value, and photos or videos of your possessions. Make sure you have multiple ways to access your inventory by storing a copy in the cloud or with a friend or relative in another state. A home inventory will help ensure you’ve purchased enough insurance to replace your personal possessions and will allow you to quickly and easily report losses to your insurance company.

• Develop emergency plans. Make sure everyone in the family knows what to do if a hurricane approaches. Map out evacuation routes and set up family communication plans. Include pets in your plans. Store insurance information and other important papers in an easily accessible location.

• Prepare your home and property. Keep plywood, extra parts for hurricane shutters, and other storm-proofing items and tools on hand. Be prepared to fortify your windows, doors, roof and other vulnerable points.

• Stay connected. Check the weather forecast regularly during hurricane season. Consider downloading weather-monitoring apps and subscribing to wireless emergency alerts.

In addition to preparing your property and having an emergency kit, it’s just as important to contact your insurance company or agent to make sure you have the right amount of coverage. “Start by checking in with your insurance agent or company regarding the amount of insurance coverage you have,” said Mr. McFaddin. “For example, determine if your policy provides for replacement costs or actual cash value of your belongings. If your home is insured at its assessed value, ask if that will be enough to rebuild in the case of a major catastrophe.”

The Immokalee Bulletin is published every Thursday.

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