"In Case of Emergency": Protecting Your Home and Yourself Amid Disaster

While Florida homeowners have already bid farewell to another hurricane season, insurance preparedness for 2015 will be on residents’ minds. Although the 2014 season followed the tamer than usual pattern of the past eight years—no hurricane of category 3 or higher made landfall—the lessons of Hurricanes Charley, Frances, and Ivan, along with the more than $45 billion in estimated property damage the storms caused, remain.

Insurance Rates Fall Following Years of High Premiums

Following each massive storm, insurance companies were obliged to disburse massive payouts, resulting in a rise in insurance premiums for the past several years. Thus, many new homeowners may have either underinsured or chosen to forgo purchasing property insurance altogether. Indeed, according to the latest statistics compiled by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, in 2011, Florida homeowners paid an average of $1,933 annually in insurance premiums, nearly double what the average American homeowner pays and represents the highest insurance premium paid in the U.S.

However, given the comparatively mild hurricane seasons of recent years, insurance prices have stabilized. Insurance reforms have also contributed to falling rates. In particular, Representative Bill Posey helped pass discounts for homeowners who “hardened” their homes against storms which, in turn, decreases the chances for major property damage.

Tips for Appropriately Insuring Your Home

Home insurance is important, not only in the event of natural disasters, but also to guard against liability in other situations, such as accidents suffered by guests and invitees, thefts, and fires. The first step is deciding which type of insurance vendor to purchase from. There are three types of home insurance companies: direct sellers, such as Progressive, captive agents, who only sell one company’s insurance products, and independent insurance agents, who sell policies from many different companies.

Next, homeowners should make a realistic assessment of how much coverage is needed. Many experts suggest that policies should be adequate to cover the entire costs of rebuilding a home should a catastrophic event occur. While a standard policy such as a HO-3 policy will protect against events like fires and fallen trees, more coverage may be needed if your home is located on a beach-front property or there are dangerous structures surrounding the home.

For those who are unsure about the value of one’s home, it may be prudent to engage a homebuilder to conduct a property review and come up with an estimate of the costs of rebuilding. Moreover, it is important to keep in mind that, while homeowner’s insurance is not required by law – like auto insurance is – it is an equally important to purchase to ensure liability coverage for the many accidents that happen in the home.

If you have been the victim of a premises liability accident or are currently defending against a claim, contact The Pittman Firm today to speak with one of our experienced attorneys and let us help you navigate the complex insurance regime for your case.

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