Hurricane Season 2022: What You Need To Do Legally To Protect Your Family Financially
By Daniel Lustig, Attorney and Partner, Pike & Lustig LLP
Hurricane season begins on June 1 and this year forecasters at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center are once again predicting above-average hurricane activity this year, making it the seventh consecutive above-average hurricane season. NOAA’s outlook for the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, which extends until November 30, is forecasting a likely range of 14 to 21 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 6 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher).
Although forecasters are not predicting a season as busy as the record-setting 2020 season, which generated an extraordinary 30 named storms including 13 hurricanes and six major hurricanes, the first organized tropical storm system of the season could form as soon as this week, according to AccuWeather forecasters – and it could be heading this way.
Florida has been extremely lucky the past few years, and therefore some argue that the state is “due” for a hurricane this year. Therefore, it’s important to prepare for the worst ahead of each season. However, when most people think about hurricane preparedness, kits packed with water, non-perishable food, flashlights and first aid materials are usually the first things that come to mind. But all too often, we forget one of the most important things we need to do to protect ourselves and our families should the worst come our way – be certain that we are insured properly and covered legally.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is assuming they are already covered for damage caused by hurricanes. In fact, the number one cause of property damage due to a hurricane is storm surge, and most homeowners insurance policies actually exclude flood damage, meaning your flooded house and ruined belongings won’t be covered by your policy. Furthermore, in many coastal areas, home insurers partially or completely exclude wind damage, one of the most common claims made even after the weakest of storms. Not understanding what’s covered by your policy can be a crucial error, therefore it is important to review your homeowners coverage with your insurance agent, and even double check the paperwork with your attorney.
Here are more crucial ways you can prepare for hurricane season to protect your family from financial disaster after a natural one:
- Document Your Home & Belongings. Create a home inventory by recording all of your belongings, especially detailing the more expensive items, and ensure this list is accessible through cloud-based storage. Take pictures and video of your home’s interior and exterior to provide proof of any specific effects the storm has on your property.
- Secure Important Documents. Ensure important documents like wills, living trusts, powers of attorney, health care proxies, titles, deeds, birth certificates, passports any anything else that you can think of are stored in a secured safe that is both waterproof and fireproof. Be sure to leave the combination to the safe with someone you trust in the event that you cannot be there to unlock it.
- Make Necessary Improvements to Your Home. Now is the time to ensure that you have access to your hurricane shutters and that they are fully operational. Be proactive by cutting down any trees or large branches that overhang your property and remove all outdoor furniture, umbrellas, grills etc. Anything you can prevent is a claim you don’t have to make!
If you are hit by a hurricane, remember to file a claim with your insurance company as soon as possible. Most policies include vague wording that states claims must be made “promptly,” so don’t take too long to file yours. Having said that, you will most likely need to be patient as your insurance company may become backlogged with claims in a short amount of time. To ensure your claim is taken care of as promptly and fairly as possible, it is best to have an experienced attorney handle the process so you can focus on your family, your resources and getting your life back together.
The law offices of Pike & Lustig, LLP is a full-service Florida law firm with an emphasis on personal injury and business litigation in Palm Beach, Broward and Dade counties. Learn more at www.turnpikelaw.com.