1. Hurricane

Hurricanes, home insurance and how to make sure you’re prepared

The process of filing a disaster claim can be stressful. Here are some tips for how to get ready.
A home lay tossed onto its side in Mexico Beach two months after Hurricane Michael. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times (2018)
Published Jun. 26
Updated Jun. 26

Confused by home insurance?

We talked to several experts in the field, and came away with these tips for making sure you’re prepared before the next storm.

READ MORE: Complete hurricane coverage from the Tampa Bay Times

BACKGROUND: Hurricane Michael destroyed their homes. Then the insurance heartache began.

Background check your providers. Research the Better Business Bureau ratings and comb through some of the data on the state Office of Insurance Regulation website ( Look into the company’s financial standing — will it have the funds to pay you if a disaster strikes? “A lot of people treat insurance as if it is a commodity, like every insurance policy is exactly the same,” said Charles Nyce, a Florida State University risk management and insurance professor. “And they’re not. Some insurance companies are better than others.”

Read your policy. Advice so trite it seems annoying. But go through your policy line-by-line, the best you can. Your home is likely your most expensive asset, and you should make sure it’s protected. Think about your cell phone bill, and how you comb over the coverage you get for the various fees. Try to understand insurance at least as well.

Lean on, and challenge, your agent. When you don’t understand something on your own, ask. Your insurance agent is an expert you hire to help you get coverage. Press them for details, until you feel like you really get it.

Know your deductibles. Before a storm hits, check and make sure you are aware of how much money you could owe if you have a claim. Nyce said the deductible should be right on the first pages of your policy, with the declarations. At the very least, read these.

Take a video of your house. If you evacuate before a storm, press record on your cell phone and perform a slow walk-through, showing everything you own and its condition. After the storm, when your insurer asks you to provide proof of all the contents you lost, this video will be crucial to your claim.

If it’s too late... and you’re struggling with an insurance claim, you can ask questions or file complaints to the state. Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis’ office has held insurance workshops in the Panhandle since Hurricane Michael.

In-state: 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (1-877-693-5236)

Out-of-state callers: (850) 413-3089

TDD line: 1-800-640-0886



  1. Hurricane Jerry is expected to begin moving to the north on Saturday. A tropical wave is expected to develop off the coast of Africa over the weekend. National Hurricane Center
    The system is expected to produce heavy rainfall and flash floods in the eastern Caribbean.
  2. Atlantic tropical cyclones and disturbances, as of 11 a.m. Thursday. National Hurricane Center
    It is projected to pass north of Puerto Rico on Saturday and east of the southeastern Bahamas on Sunday.
  3. Atlantic tropical cyclones and disturbances, as of 5 a.m. Thursday. National Hurricane Center
    The system should stay well east of the United States, according to forecasters.
  4. Tropical Storm Jerry is expected to become reach hurricane status on Friday. National Hurricane Center
    Forecasters expect the storm to reach hurricane status on Friday.
  5. This satellite image shows Hurricane Michael on Oct. 9, 2018, as it enters the Gulf of Mexico. It made landfall near Mexico Beach in the Panhandle as a Category 5 storm. [Photo courtesy of NOAA] NOAA
    Nearly a year after the storm, 18,000 claims are still open.
  6. The tropical outlook on Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2019. National Hurricane Center
    The depression is expected to become Tropical Storm Jerry by early Wednesday, then strengthen to a hurricane by the weekend.
  7. Hurricane Humberto's projected path as of 5 a.m. Tuesday, according to the National Hurricane Center. National Hurricane Center
    It could become a major hurricane by Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.
  8. The forecast track for Hurricane Humberto, as of 5 a.m. Monday. National Hurricane Center
    The Category 1 hurricane is moving away from the southeastern United States and expected to approach Bermuda by Wednesday night.
  9. Mos Antenor, 42, drives a bulldozer while clearing the road after Hurricane Dorian Mclean's Town, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Friday Sept. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa) RAMON ESPINOSA  |  AP
    Threatening to exacerbate islands’ problems, Humberto’s rains were falling on Abaco island.
  10. Members of the fire rescue team Task Force 8, from Gainesville, Florida, help remove a body one week after Hurricane Dorian hit The Mudd neighborhood in the Marsh Harbor area of Abaco Island, Bahamas, Monday, Sept. 9, 2019. Dorian, the most powerful hurricane in the northwestern Bahamas' recorded history, has killed at least 44 people in Bahamas as of Sunday, Sept. 8, according to the government. GONZALO GAUDENZI  |  AP
    Many in the northwestern Bahamas, known for its casinos, golf courses and mega yachts, worry they will be forced into deep poverty.