Hurricane season is upon us in South Florida. If you haven’t done so already, you may want to make sure that your insurance coverage is adequate. While it is impossible to know the kind of damage that any given storm can cause, it can help to understand how different storm categories can impact your home. What are some steps you can take to prepare yourself and to protect your family? Leader, Leader, & Zucker, PLLC are hurricane insurance claims lawyers in Fort Lauderdale, Florida who will be here for you should you encounter difficulties with your insurance claim after a storm.
Hurricane intensities are measured using the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Hurricanes are classified into five different categories, with a category 1 being the lowest intensity and a category 5 being the highest intensity. If a storm is sufficiently intense, but not strong enough to be a hurricane, it may be classified as a tropical storm. Any hurricane or tropical storm can cause significant damage to a person’s home. Why? A tropical storm or even a minor hurricane can also bring tornadoes, lightning, and storm surge. A storm doesn’t need to be a category 5 to cause significant damage. Regardless of the strength of the storm, it is important to stockpile enough water and food for your family. Have batteries, flashlights, and other provisions ready, and make sure that your home is protected by adequate insurance coverage for your area and level of risk.
Here are some things to keep in mind when South Florida gets its first hurricane warnings and watches.
- Category 1 Hurricane. With a category one storm, debris can shatter windows and cause damage to the structure of a home, including the roof. The power can get cut off if debris hits a power line. While most glass windows won’t shatter under the force of the wind, families can prevent wind damage to windows by securing loose items on their lawns and yards.
- Category 2 Hurricane. With a category 2 hurricane, mobile homes can suffer extensive damage. There is also a greater risk that flying debris can shatter windows and cause property damage. Roof damage is possible, and there is the potential that trees might be uprooted. Pruning trees before the storm and securing any objects that can become projectiles can be important. Furthermore, you may want to purchase tarps to protect broken windows and roofs should they be destroyed during the storm. Your hurricane insurance may protect your against water damage sustained during the storm if a window is shattered or a roof is damaged, but may not protect your against subsequent damage and mold if you don’t take steps to secure your roof and windows. Furthermore, depending on how water enters your home, it may or may not be covered based on your policy.
- Category 3 Hurricane. With a category 3 hurricane, the damage risk will be very similar to a category 2 storm, but the risks are far higher, and the damage more likely to be widespread. If South Florida is ever under a category 2 or 3 warning, families should take precautions like securing loose objects in the lawn, having a tarp on hand, and pruning trees.
- Category 4 Hurricane. During a category 4 storm, houses can completely collapse. Roofs can be seriously damaged or destroyed. Making sure that you know your family’s safety plan is important and having insurance documents in a safe place, like a safe deposit box is incredibly important because your home may not be the safest place for either your family or your sensitive documents.
- Category 5 Hurricane. Similar to a category 4 hurricane, with a category 5 hurricane, the risk of extensive and widespread damage is increased. Preparations should be made and families may need to evacuate the area.
Regardless of the severity of the storm forecasted to hit, it is important to understand that some storms can rapidly intensify. There have been many cases where wind speeds increased a storm by a few categories overnight. For this reason, it is important to closely monitor reports if your area is under a hurricane warning or watch. Taking basic precautions like securing loose objects and having proper supplies is essential.
In the aftermath of a storm, you’ll want to report the damage to your insurance company as soon as possible. Have your preferred contractor’s name and contact information at the ready, so that you can get an estimate of damages soon after the storm.
Finally, be sure to review your policy before the storm hits so that you know your rights. And, if you or your family are having trouble with an insurance claim after a hurricane hits, you may have certain rights under the law to appeal a denied or lowball claim. Leader, Leader, & Zucker, PLLC are hurricane insurance claims lawyers in Fort Lauderdale, Florida who may be able to assist you with your claim. Contact us today to learn more.