- Strong winds and heavy rains from Hurricane Ian will likely affect parts of the Sunshine State.
Here’s what you need to know about insurance before Ian arrives in Florida.
CAN I STILL HIRE INSURANCE?
It’s too late to purchase flood coverage for Ian. Insurance policies take 30 days to go into effect, said Mark Friedlander, director of Business Communications for the Insurance Information Institute.
You shouldn’t buy new coverage or change coverage in the course of a natural disaster event, he said.
Friedlander says Florida insurers typically suspend new insurance policies, called a moratorium, once a hurricane or tropical storm warning or watch is issued for the state. Florida has already had its first warning, as the lower Florida Keys, from the Seven Mile Bridge south to Key West, are under a tropical storm warning.
“This applies even if the storm is not forecast to affect a specific area,” he said.
Friedlander said he recommends planning ahead of hurricane season and having an annual insurance review with his agent to review your policies and identify gaps in coverage.
WHY ARE THERE INSURANCE MORATORIES?
Moratoriums are standard insurance procedure for when hazards hit — or are about to hit — an area, Friedlander said. This usually happens when natural phenomena occur, such as wildfires and large tornado outbreaks.
WHEN ARE THE MORATORIES LIFT?
Friedlander said moratoriums on policies are usually lifted when the threat has passed. However, the term depends on the insurance company.
ARE THE MORATORIES IN FORCE IF I AM NOT IN THE CONE OF THE STORM?
Florida insurers enact a statewide moratorium once the National Weather Service issues a storm watch for any county in the state, Friedlander said.
He added that the moratorium is not based on the forecast path of the storm. It applies even if the storm is not expected to reach the insured’s area.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF MY PROPERTY IS DAMAGED AND I AM NOT INSURED?
If you are affected by a storm, you must file a claim with FEMA.
If he’s uninsured, Friendlander says he’ll have to wait for FEMA’s emergency grants to be issued. He cautions that getting the grant can be a “very complex process,” with the average grant being only about $10,000.
“That’s why we say don’t count on FEMA to help you get back on your feet,” he said. “That’s why it’s so important to have insurance, because it provides protection for you and your family.”
DOES AUTO INSURANCE COVER STORM DAMAGE?
Comprehensive auto insurance covers storm damage to your vehicle, such as if a tree falls on your car or your car is hit by a flood, Friedlander said. It may also cover a garage collapse on your vehicle if your home is severely damaged.
But you have to check if you have opted for all-risk insurance. He noted that about 80% of American drivers are enrolled in this optional coverage.
IS THERE ANYTHING I NEED TO DO BEFORE IAN ARRIVES?
Before the storm, Friedlander suggests doing a home inventory and taking photos or videos of your possessions, including furniture, clothing and electronics.