Hurricane season has officially begun. Now is the time to revisit your property insurance coverage to make sure you know what to expect should a storm come.
The standard advice applies every year: Have all of your policy documents and videos and photos of your belongings in one place if you need to evacuate. And don’t forget to prepare your home ahead of time against hazards like overhanging branches.
But there are a few other things to consider this year. The Tampa Bay Times spoke with Jake Holehouse, president of St. Petersburg-based HH Insurance Group, about what to expect. Responses have been edited for clarity and length.
What do Floridians need to know about what they’ll pay out of pocket on their policies?
“One of the big things in Florida, like other states, is we have a hurricane deductible. For most people, they have a $2,500 deductible for non-hurricane loss (damage not caused by a hurricane), and a 2 percent or 5 percent deductible on hurricane loss. That percentage is not the claim amount. It’s the dwelling coverage (for the home that’s insured). If we have a $300,000 house, for a 5 percent deductible, that is a $15,000 deductible. Know what that means and what your deducible is because now is the time to make an adjustment prior to a storm coming.”
When does a hurricane deductible kick in?
“Any time the National Hurricane Center (issues) a hurricane watch or warning for any part of the state of Florida, your hurricane deductible kicks in and lasts for 72 hours after the advisory has been lifted.”
What if a hurricane comes through but the damage to my home isn’t enough to meet the deductible?
“In the Florida marketplace, any admitted insurance carriers offer that deducible on a calendar year basis. Each claim adds up to that hurricane deductible. Even if you have a high deductible on there, we recommend reporting that claim to the insurance carrier even if it comes in below the deductible (because) it can add up to your deductible (over the year).”
What’s new this year?
“The roof age is really affecting new business. It’s stricter this year. You have basically four main types of roofing materials. Composite shingles, a flat shingle...were insurable to 15 years old. Then you have an architectural shingle, where you see a little dimension; those were insurable to 20 years old. Tile roofs were insurable 40 to 50 years old. Metal roofs were also 40 to 50 years old. (This year), the market average is that composite shingles from a new business standpoint (are insurable to) 10 years. Architectural shingle is 15 years. For tile, there’s some (carriers) that have gone to 15 years but most sit on 25 years (for) tile. And metal is still a 40 to 50 year material. The reason for (the) tile (change) is that it’s so difficult to match.”
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Fifty thousand policyholders need to find new coverage in the coming weeks and months. What do you recommend for them?
“Talk to your agent as soon as you can and see what they’re doing to re-market your account. Ask if you’re going to need any new type of inspections to get a new policy. In Florida, you often have to get a four-point inspection and a wind mitigation inspection. If that’s the case, you might have to schedule that and get that inspection back to get a policy written. You want to start that as soon as you can. If you see a significant rate increase, look at additional (coverage) options. Start with your current (insurance) agent who’s going to help you (and) already has all of your records.”