As Tropical Storm Eta gets closer to Tampa Bay’s shores, potential damage from its winds and any flooding may be top of mind.
If you have property, flood or business interruption insurance, now is the time to figure out what your coverage entails and to get a few things in order, said Mark Friedlander, Florida representative for the Insurance Information Institute.
Is it too late to get insurance if I don’t have it already?
Most likely. Each insurer has different standards for writing policies, but most put a moratorium on new policies when there is a weather watch or warning issued, according to Friedlander. That moratorium typically applies even if the storm isn’t projected to hit your area, as insurers typically serve an entire state.
“Typically if the moratoriums are in place, you’re not able to add coverage or make changes to existing coverage,” he said.
What kind of damage should I expect?
Tropical Storm Eta’s winds reached maximum sustained speeds of 70 mph as of 1 p.m. Wednesday, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Wind damage, Friedlander said, is one of the issues to watch out for.
“That could cause property damage certainly with winds that strong,” he said.
Windstorm damage, he said, is generally covered by standard homeowner, renter and business insurance policies.
What about flood?
As with many storms, flood damage is one of the primary concerns for Floridians. Flood insurance is typically a separate policy than homeowners and renters policies. This often covers both damage to the structure of a home and its possessions, Friedlander said.
What if my car gets flooded?
For vehicles, flood coverage works slightly differently. Friedlander said flooding is typically covered under comprehensive auto policies, an optional coverage that roughly 80 percent of drivers in the country have. This would cover any flood damage to an insured vehicle that was parked and inundated with water.
What about for my business?
Storm coverage for business is typically covered in two ways: the structure and contents of a building is often covered under standard business insurance. But should a business need to close temporarily or if damage to the surrounding area makes it inaccessible to customers, lost revenue is only covered by business interruption insurance.
Just a third of small businesses around the country have this type of coverage, Friedlander said.
What can I do between now and when the storm makes landfall?
Once your hurricane supplies are ready, consider taking pictures of your belongings to help with any claims you may file.
“It’s good to have before and after photos,” Friedlander said. “If you do have a claim, it makes the claims process smoother.”
After the storm hits, when it’s safe to do so, take pictures of the damages to document it and contact your insurance agent or company as soon as possible.
How can I know for sure what’s covered under my insurance?
Check your insurance “declaration," the portion of your policy that spells out exactly what is and isn’t covered, including any deductibles you need to pay before coverage kicks in. If you have trouble locating yours, call your insurance agent or company.
• • •
2020 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide
HURRICANE SEASON IS HERE: Get ready and stay informed at tampabay.com/hurricane
PREPARE FOR COVID-19 AND THE STORM: The CDC's tips for this pandemic-hurricane season
PREPARE YOUR STUFF: Get your documents and your data ready for a storm
PROTECT YOUR PETS: Your pets can’t get ready for a storm. That’s your job
NEED TO KNOW: Click here to find your evacuation zone and shelter