Hurricane Insurance

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If you haven’t looked at your property insurance policy lately, now’s the time to do so. You can’t make policy changes this close to a potential hurricane, but you can at least make sure you know what to expect if you have to file a claim.

Insurance agent Bill Gunter points out key elements of a homeowner’s policy. He says his phone’s been ringing off the hook ever since Hurricane Dennis started heading toward Florida, with policy holders trying to figure out what’s covered and what isn’t.

Bill Gunter says, "We’re being inundated with calls, and frankly, even from people who want to increase their coverage now. Unfortunately, we can’t do that because we’re, as they say in the industry, in the box."

That means Florida is in the storm’s path, and you can’t get a new policy or make changes until 24 hours after it passes. What you can do is take a close look at your policy, especially how much you’d have to pay for a hurricane deductible before you can get repairs done. Most policies charge two percent of your home’s value, which is usually several thousand dollars.

One bright spot is a change in the law that means you only have to pay one deductible per hurricane season, but with some 40,000 people still waiting for repairs to be complete from last year’s storms, Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher knows that’s little comfort.

Tom says, "For those people who I feel so sorry for who have blue tarps still on the roof, they need to do everything they can to make sure those are held down, maybe some plywood or something else on top of them."

If you have to evacuate, take a copy of your policy with you. Insurance experts say those with property in Hurricane Dennis’ cone of uncertainty, which covers most of the state should secure their home. Bring in grills and outdoor furniture, put vehicles in the garage, and consider putting plywood on windows.

For information, call Florida's Storm Information Line at 1-800-342-3557.