HURRICANE SEASON FOR 2020 COULD BE BUSY
Hurricane Season begins June 1st and runs through November 30, 2020, the start of which is right around the corner. The University of Colorado meteorological department makes predictions each year for the upcoming hurricane season and is currently lead by Dr. Phil Klotzbach. They base the prediction on more than 30 years of statistical factors in combination with data from season with similar features. They look at sea level pressure as well as sea surface temperatures in both the Atlantic and Pacific. The forecast for the season calls for above average activity. The team has predicted 16 named storms, eight hurricanes and four major hurricanes. They also predict a 69% chance that one major hurricane will make landfall with a 95% chance that the landfall will occur in the United States. No matter how many storms are predicted, each home should be ready, especially if you live on the coast. It only takes one hurricane to make landfall. In 1992, that season only produced six named storms but one was Hurricane Andrew which was a Category 5 hurricane which hit Florida. In 1983, there were only four names storms but one of them was Alicia which was a Category 3 storm which hit Texas. In contrast, the 2010 season had 19 named storms and 12 hurricanes but none of them made landfall.
Scientists say El Nino and La Nina, which are the periodic warming and cooling of the Pacific Ocean, can shift weather patterns over a period of months and is a factor in hurricane forecasting. As of early this Spring, a weak El Nino was in place but waters in March slowly cooled and Dr. Klotzbach predicts a transition to neutral or potentially even a weak La Nina condition this summer or fall. La Nina generally acts as a speed boost to the Atlantic hurricane season, but it is not the only factor. Another factor the team at the University of Colorado looks to is how warm the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico water are. Currently, most of the Atlantic Basin waters are already above average temperatures. The Gulf of Mexico is also above average currently by several degrees. Current models indicate that most of the water temperatures during hurricane season will be higher than average which will likely mean above average number of hurricanes. If La Nina kicks in toward the end of the season and the atmosphere responds by creating less wind shear, this will make for more favorable conditions for hurricane formations.
Since we are anticipating a busy season, make sure you do the following to get ready ahead of time:
- If you are in an evacuation zone, determine where you should go ahead of time. Even if you are staying to ride out the storm, you should have a backup shelter plan. It is also a good idea to have a family communication plan with contact information for each member. Designate meeting places ahead of time.
- Place copies of your insurance policies in a safe place like a safe deposit box or safe, along with your other important documents such as wills, deeds and family medical information.
- It is a great idea to take a video of the inside of your home. Many times, if the hurricane does damage to your home and its interior, you will be required to make list of your contents. It can be very difficult to remember everything you had in the house but a video can be a very effective tool to jog your memory or even to give a copy to the insurance company to prove what you do have. If you are evacuating, I would suggest taking this video with you or storing it in a very secure location.
- As the hurricane approaches, don’t wait too long to buy supplies. Supplies will start to run low as the storm gets closer. It is also a good idea to take out some cash and gas up the cars. If you have a propane grill, you may need that for cooking if the electricity goes out so make sure you fill your propane tanks.
- Don’t forget your boat of you own one.
- As the storm approaches, bring in patio furniture, garbage cans, potted plants, or any other item that can become wind blown flying objects that can cause more damage. Make sure you get plywood early before supplies run out and cover your windows if you don’t have permanent storm shutters. It is recommended that you use 5/8” exterior grade or marine plywood if you can get it.
- If you are not evacuating, when the storm is about 6 hours out, turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest settings and keep them closed as much as you can to conserve the temperature. If power goes out, food will stay cold and last longer.
- Make sure your cell phone is charged. That may be the only way someone can reach you if the power is lost.
- When the storm hits, stay inside and stay calm. Try to get your family into the strongest interior room, preferably one without windows. If you notice leaks in the roof or if there is flooding, it is a good idea to turn off circuit breakers to prevent electrical problems.
- After the storm, inspect your property. Remember all insurance policies state that you as the insured have a duty to preserve and protect your property from further damage. This means that if you have a section of the roof damaged, you need to either find someone to tarp it or tarp it yourself. I would recommend having some tarps on hand just in case. It can be very difficult after the storm to find someone to tarp your roof due to demand. Board up any broken windows and do your best to prevent any further damage. It is also a good idea to take pictures of the damage. If you have trees that have fallen on the house and you have the capability to remove them, take pictures first and then remove the tree and tarp the roof.
- If you have damage, call in your claims. You will likely need your policy number so have that information handy. The insurance company will want to know what date the damage occurred, what damage do you know about and will likely assign you a claim number. Make sure you write down the claim number because you will need it for any further contact with the insurance company.
- Insurance companies will be very busy during this time period. They may want to take a recorded statement when you call. Ever policy requires that you cooperate with the insurance company and failure to do so could hamper your claim. If they ask for a recorded statement, give them one. Just be as honest as you can be.
- As you progress in the claims process, you may be asked to give an examination under oath. In my opinion it is always a good idea to get some representation for this process. We are always available to assist insureds with any aspect of the claims handling process like examinations under oath at Christopher Ligori & Associates. An examination under oath is like a deposition but the rules of eivdence don’t apply. You are required by the policy to give an examination under oath if you are asked. Don’t refuse because this could void any possible claim you may have. Also don’t lie. Florida law provides that if you make a material misrepresentation during the submission of your claim, it could void your entire policy even if you have a valid claim.
- If the insurance company requests documents or receipts, you are required by the policy to give them if you have them. Don’t provide the originals because they could be lost, only provide copies and keep the originals.
- You also may be required to provide a proof of loss. Be very careful filing out this form because if it is done incorrectly, it will cause many problems in the claim and could cost you some money that is rightfully due you. If you have questions, call us for a free consultation.
- Finally, you may be asked to allow the insurance company to view the property or allow an expert from the insurance company, like an engineer, to view the property. You have to give the insurance company reasonable access but it must be reasonable.
Hopefully, this will assist you in preparing for the next hurricane season and keep your family safe. If you have questions about your insurance company and coverage, please give us a call for a free consultation so that you can ensure that you obtain the maximum amount you deserve for your family if disaster strikes. We are always here to help.