By the time this piece is published Hurricane Isaias will have been ‘a thing’ to Floridians…or not. And hopefully not.
This series has dedicated a good amount of ink (actually electrons) over time to hurricane preparedness. 1 (Insurance tidbit – When looking at a property coverage policy, the term will appear not as ‘hurricane’ but rather as ‘named windstorm’. 2) As will be noted from the lists of measures to be taken, and of available public and private resources for planning, there is no need for businesses, families, and individuals to be ill-prepared.
Full disclosure: This writer is a survivor of a major Atlantic hurricane, having lost his first house to Hurricane Andrew. The measures described in the following, then, track personal experience.
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Assuming that such preliminary measures as collecting and safeguarding all insurance policies and major personal property item original purchase receipts, charging batteries, filling receptacles with drinking water, pre-cooking non-perishable food, elevating memorabilia off-the-ground, and taking ‘before’ photographs or videos (remembering to back them up; these are important because they can serve as an index of lost, destroyed, or damaged property), all one can realistically do during a storm is safely shelter-in-place, either in-home or at an evacuation shelter. (The latter is made challenging as the result of social distancing during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.)
There is a ‘zombie-like’ psychological effect of disbelief immediately following a hurricane. Stepping out of one’s shelter confronts observers with what may appear as a type of ‘war zone’. Parts of houses, full fences, personal belongings, and even vehicles are strewn about. Everywhere.
Once that scene is taken-in and processed, the next step is, of course, to ensure that matters of safety are immediately addressed. It may well be necessary to call emergency services or utility companies if ‘live wires’ are down or gas lines broken. To help…9-1-1. And also to have initial roof coverings installed (i.e., the infamous ‘blue tarp’).
Next, take fresh ‘after’ pictures of the images previously photographed. Catalogue lost, destroyed, and damaged items (including vehicles). Which is why the previously referenced photographic record is recommended. Affiliate the lost items with the purchase invoices. Also, to the best possible obtain quotes of replacement costs (Even from online stores, when needed).
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Then contact one’s insurance agent. This is when especial patience is required – if the hurricane was of major impact, it could take an extended period for an adjuster to arrive. When that day arrives, have ready an index (meaning notebook the adjuster can take) of lost items with corresponding before and after photographs, purchase invoices, and receipts. Depending upon whether one has a replacement cost value or actual cost value policy, the insurance company will reimburse the policy holder for the current purchase price (if an ‘RCV’ policy) or the depreciated value (if an ‘ACV’ policy). (Do not be afraid of politely challenging low-end reimbursement quotes. With data and documentation.)
Note, note, note: If the insurance policy has temporary residence coverage, use it. Either way, one is going to need someplace to reside during reconstruction.
And now, perhaps with the assistance of the flood insurance policy adjuster, or from personal research, arrange for the contractors to begin clean-up and rebuilding. This, too, can take a good deal of time as with any reconstruction project – compounded possibly by hundreds or even thousands of other ongoing projects, each with their individual demands on labor and materials.
An ‘extra’ thought to consider: Once the insurance company remits its reimbursement, the recipient could be holding a large amount of cash. ‘Now’ is not the time to splurge or waste this hopefully one-off ‘bounty’. Instead, discuss ways with one’s banker or investment advisor to ‘park’ those funds which will at least preserve funds for contractor payments and replacement purchases.
If this writer can offer but one word from experience in ‘handling’ post-hurricane activities, as suggested above, it is patience. Much will be needed. Little will be provided from third-parties.
Floridians, be safe, be well, and be prepared both before and after a hurricane.
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1 See https://www.boginmunns.com/community/a-new-bump-in-the-road-hurricane-season-2020-is-here-early/, https://www.boginmunns.com/community/florida-hurricane-holiday-sales/. And particularly https://www.boginmunns.com/community/three-things-to-know-now/. There are literally lists of things to do and get before a hurricane arrives. Caveat – “To get” does not equate “to horde”; the first concept is helpful, the second is wasteful.
2 And do not forget about purchasing flood insurance. In advance. See https://www.boginmunns.com/blog/the-importance-of-hurricane-insurance-for-your-florida-business/.
– For more information, call Philip N. Kabler of the Gainesville, FL office of Bogin, Munns & Munns at 352.332.7688, where he practices in the areas of business, banking, real estate, and equine law. He has taught business and real estate law courses at the University of Florida Warrington College of Business Administration and Levin College of Law and is the President-Elect of the Eighth Judicial Circuit Bar Association.
NOTICE: The article above is not intended to serve as legal advice, and you should not rely on it as such. It is offered only as general information. You should consult with a duly licensed attorney regarding your Florida legal matter, as every situation is unique. Please know that merely reading this article, subscribing to this blog, or otherwise contacting Bogin, Munns & Munns does not establish an attorney-client relationship with our firm. Should you seek legal representation from Bogin, Munns & Munns, any such representation must first be agreed to by the firm and confirmed in a written agreement.