What to do now?
Even though the majority of Hurricane Matthew has passed us, dangerous conditions are still out there. Down power lines, trees and building damage is scattered throughout Florida. Everyone is encouraged to stay home until the news media reports otherwise. Announcements concerning debris clean-up will be made on television, the newspaper, this website, local radio, and County Facebook and Twitter pages.
What now? The mess is all over Florida, but be careful as you don’t want to cause more damage or harm to yourself by cleaning up too soon. County workers are skilled in managing debris following a major emergency situation. The storm history provides them with considerable experience in planning, logistics, and debris clean-up operations. They’re prepared for any emergency.
As soon as it is safe, local governments send crews out to assess and report back where emergency debris clean-up is needed.
- Debris will first be removed from public right-of-way to allow safe passage of emergency vehicles.
- County emergency crews will prioritize clean-up to focus on those areas causing any threat to citizen lives, public health and safety.
Below are a list of important utility company numbers and websites for you to use during the rebuilding process.
Before you call your insurance company!
1. Know your coverage. Unfortunately, it’s obviously too late to purchase insurance coverage if you don’t have any.
If you do have a standard homeowner’s policy, it most likely will not cover flood damage. Instead, you’ll need to buy flood insurance from your agent or from the National Flood Insurance Program.
Be cautious that even if you’re properly insured, you may have to contend with high deductibles. A lot of homeowner’s policies that protect against hurricanes could require homeowners to foot the bill for damages equivalent to 5 percent of the value of the home.
You can use an emergency fund to absorb the cost of the deductible, but if you don’t have the cash, you might be able to turn to your home equity line that you might already have.
2. Take inventory. One thing you can do before you evacuate is to make a video or take photos in which you note the valuables in your home. If you have receipts from when you purchased these items, document them, too.
Be sure to store your photographic proof on a thumb drive or on a cloud that’s remotely accessible, said McClanahan at Life Planning Partners.
Know whether you have replacement cost coverage or cash value coverage on your possessions. The former — replacement cost — will replace the item regardless of when you had originally bought it. Cash value coverage, however, will consider depreciation of value when replacing the item you’ve lost.
Certain items, such as jewelry or art, require an additional rider, as they may be excluded from your homeowner’s policy otherwise.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has an app and a downloadable inventory checklist to simplify the inventory process.
3. Filing a claim. Document all of your communications with an insurer. Keeping records of everything is crucial in moments like these. Disagreements will happen, contact your state insurance regulator if you and your insurer are at loggerheads about a claim.