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Monday, June 22 2020

Even though the six-month Atlantic hurricane season lasts as long as a typical Major League Baseball season, a Florida congresswoman thinks it needs to be longer.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy sent a letter to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration June 17 requesting that the start of the official hurricane season be in mid-May. The current season goes from June through November, but Murphy said there has been at least one named storm before June 1 in each of the past six years.

In 2020, three tropical storms – Arthur, Bertha and Cristobal – formed in mid-May and the beginning of June, she said.

“This presents a practical problem, because government officials and residents in hurricane-prone states use this season to inform their funding choices, public awareness campaigns, and preparation decisions,” Murphy said in the letter. “Accordingly, an official season that does not accurately predict major storm activity could result in readiness being compromised and people and property being harmed.”

NOAA has received the congresswoman’s letter and the agency looks forward to discussing the topic with her, spokesman Christopher Vaccaro said.

Although several tropical storms have formed in the Atlantic before June 1 in recent years, most of them have been “marginal in their structure” and improved satellite monitoring has likely led to an increase in short-lived, weak storms being named by the National Hurricane Center in recent years, said Phil Klotzbach, a research scientist at Colorado State University.

There has been only one named hurricane before June since the satellite era started in 1966 – Hurricane Alma in 1970.

“I don’t think there is any reason to lengthen the hurricane season, since we haven’t had a hurricane in May in 50 years,” Klotzbach said in an email.

Even though Bertha almost flooded Brian McNoldy’s home last May a day before it became a tropical storm, the University of Miami senior research associate does not think the season needs to be extended.

“Hurricane season was also never intended to include … all of the activity, just the majority of it,” said McNoldy, who works for the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science. “Having some outliers is fine.”

Posted by: AT 12:51 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, June 10 2020

Water Damage: A homeowner’s policy typically covers damage caused by water, but with very specific exceptions. It generally does not cover damage from water coming into the home from the ground, but rather water damage that comes into the home from another source, such as a leaking roof or from a burst pipe. Water coming into a home from the ground is called flooding and is not covered by a typical homeowner’s policy. A separate flood policy must be purchased to cover this peril. It would include water that seeps into the home from a heavy rainfall or as the result of a lake, ocean or river overflowing onto the property. However, flood is a covered peril in most auto insurance policies where comprehensive coverage has been purchased.

Wind Damage: Yes, wind damage is covered by the most popular and comprehensive form of homeowner’s insurance called an HO-3 policy. It will insure the home and personal property of the policyholder against a number of perils. Some examples include fire, lightning, theft, windstorm or hail. Wind damage may include such things as a fallen tree, which damages a roof or windows of a home. Although windstorm coverage is included in an HO-3 policy, Florida law requires insurers to provide policyholders with the option to exclude coverage for windstorm in specified situations. If a policyholder excludes this coverage, they will not be covered for wind damage. Alternatively, some policyholders may also opt to purchase a separate policy that provides coverage only for the peril of windstorm damage. This policy would not cover any other perils that would affect the home or property.

This general coverage description is intended only as a guide. Please refer to the provisions of your insurance policy for additional information.

Posted by: AT 08:21 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, June 04 2020

The number of traffic crashes in Florida dropped by 50% in April compared to the same time last year, according to highway officials.

With residents holed up at home, working remotely and running fewer errands, rush hour traffic has dipped considerably. Shuttered bars and restaurants has meant fewer drunk drivers on the roads. Florida drivers were involved in 16,191 crashes last month compared to 33,692 in April 2019, according to data from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

The Tampa Bay Times reports the dip started in March as the pandemic spread. Florida’s crash data showed a 25 percent decrease in March compared to last year.

“The fewer people out driving, the less vehicle miles traveled, the less opportunity for people to do bad things,” said Whit Blanton, executive director of Forward Pinellas, the county’s transportation planning agency.

Posted by: AT 12:42 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, June 01 2020

Here are the top five things policyholders need to understand about insurance and hurricanes:

  1. Hurricane deductibles: Most homeowners’ insurance policies contain specific provisions related to damage caused by hurricanes, and a key feature is often higher deductibles for losses resulting from a hurricane. Under this provision, homeowners are responsible for paying a percentage of the insured value of the home, generally ranging from 2-10 percent. So for a home insured for $100,000 with a 2-percent hurricane deductible, the policyholder would be responsible to pay out of pocket for the first $2,000 in damages.
  2. Wind-driven rain: Damage caused by wind-driven rain—for example, rain blown through poorly sealed door/window openings—is not covered in most instances. While damage caused by wind itself is likely covered (subject to the hurricane deductible), water damage caused by rain seeping into the home through doors/windows generally is not.
  3. Repair scams: Homeowners should resist the temptation to sign up with the first repair crew that shows up at their door, and especially should not sign paperwork that assigns the rights and benefits of their insurance policy to someone else. Assignment of benefits scams are a leading cause of rising insurance rates, and fraud artists see a hurricane aftermath as a golden opportunity to prey on unsuspecting homeowners. Insurance policyholders should always call us their agent or their insurance company first, to report a loss and determine the best way to proceed.
  4. Flood damage: Damage caused by flooding, common in a hurricane, is not covered by standard homeowners insurance policies. A separate flood insurance policy is required for this type of loss.
  5. Mitigate and document: Homeowners are expected to mitigate damage to their home to the extent they safely can, and to document their damage. So, putting a tarp over a damaged roof or boarding up a broken window can prevent further losses. Homeowners should document damage by taking photographs and save receipts for any out-of-pocket costs.
Posted by: AT 01:51 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
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