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Brady Smith , AICP
4000 Gateway Centre Blvd.
Pinellas Park, Florida 33782
Phone: (727)570-5151 ext. 42
4000 Gateway Centre Blvd. Suite 100
Phone: (727)570-5151 ext. 29
Protect Your Home
There are some specific actions you should take to make your home safer. To make some of these improvements, you will have to get up in the attic or crawl space with a flashlight. You may feel more comfortable with an experienced and licensed inspector, architect, engineer or contractor inspecting your home. Whatever choice you make, take time to do this well before the storm threatens. To withstand the forces of wind associated with severe weather, REMEMBER your ABC’S:
- Anchor your roof;
- Brace entry and garage doors;
- Cover your windows; and find your
- Safe Room
Anchor Your Roof
If your roof was built before 1994 and is gabled, brace all gable-end framing with horizontal and vertical beams. Also, make sure that there is wood sheathing (planks or plywood) behind the stucco of the triangular gable end walls.
Using a caulking gun, apply a 1/4 inch bead of APA AFG-01 certified wood adhesive along all intersections of the roof deck and roof support element (rafter or truss chord) on both sides of the beam. This technique can increase the wind uplift resistance by up to 3 times, but should not be used if you are going to re-roof in the near future.
Brace Your Entry & Garage Doors
Entry doors are easily damaged by high winds. Bolt all doors with foot and head bolts with a minimum one inch bolt throw length.
Garage doors should be able to withstand hurricane wind loads and the impacts of flying debris. If yours does not, replace with a hurricane resistant one. Approximately 80% of residential hurricane wind damage starts with wind entry through garage doors.
COVER YOUR WINDOWS
Protecting your windows is perhaps one of the most important factors in securing your home or office from total destruction in a hurricane or severe storm. Make sure all doors and windows are properly caulked and/or weather stripped. Replace gravel/rock landscaping material with fire treated, shredded bark to reduce damage. Cover all windows and glass doors with securely fastened, impact-resistant shutters or other approved window protection systems with proper mounting fixtures or replace them with impact resistant laminated window and door systems, if feasible. Hint: You don’t have to use the same system on every window. Source: www.flash.org.
DO NOT stay in a room which does not have shielded windows/glass doors. Find an interior room – a bathroom, hallway or closet which will help buffer you from the storm’s winds. Make sure all family members know where the safe areas are in your home. Be sure to take your disaster suppy kit into your safe room when a storm threatens.
BUILDING OR REMODELING?
FOR MOBILE HOME RESIDENTS
- Anchor mobile homes with tie downs. Inspect tie downs annually.
- Never stay inside mobile homes to ride out the storm. Always evacuate to a friend or relative’s home, hotel or motel or nearby designated storm shelter.
A word about insurance
Insurance is something most people don’t want to think about until they need it most. But understanding what is and isn’t covered in your homeowner’s and renters’ insurance policy can mean the difference of being able to rebuild your home and replace your personal belongings. If you experience any problems with a hurricane or catastrophic claim, please contact the Florida Department of Financial Services at 1-800-227-8676 (1-800-22-STORM).
Policy Limits Must be Adequate to Replace the Home if That Becomes Necessary
You need enough insurance to cover the cost of rebuilding your home at current construction costs and building codes. Don’t include the cost of the land. Check the value of your insurance policy against rising local building cost EACH YEAR. Advise your insurer and increase the limits of your policy if you make improvements or additions to your house.
Federal Flood Policy is Necessary for Flooding and Storm Surge Coverage
Standard homeowner’s policies do not cover damage from floods, including storm surge from a hurricane. Insurance for flooding and storm surge is available from the National Flood Insurance Program. Information should be available through the agent handling your regular homeowner’s policy, but is also available from the National Flood Insurance Program or by calling 1-888-379-9531. Remember, there is a 30 day waiting period for flood insurance to go into effect. Don’t wait until a storm is threatening.
Make Sure You are Aware of Your Hurricane Deductible
Even though the requirements have been in effect for 10 years, many Florida residents were caught unaware of their homeowner’s insurance deductible. Nearly 70 percent of homes in Florida have a special deductible for hurricane damage in the amount of 2 percent of the policy limits per event. For a $200,000 home, that is approximately $4000 per event. Homes valued at less than $100,000 may still have a $200 - $500 deductible. More expensive homes may have a 5% deductible. Talk with your agent to determine your potential out of pocket expense!
Building Code Upgrade Coverage
Building codes are updated periodically and may have changed significantly since your home was built. If your home is badly damaged, you may be required to rebuild your home to meet new building codes. That includes homes built before flood regulations which may require the home to be elevated. Many insurance companies offer an Ordinance or Law endorsement that pays a specified amount toward these additional costs.
Most homeowner’s insurance policies provide coverage for your personal possessions in amounts approximating 50% to 70% of the amount of insurance you have on the main structure or “dwelling”. The limits of the policy typically appear on the Declarations Page under Section I, Coverage C. Contents. To determine if this is enough coverage, you need to conduct a home inventory and talk with your agent.
Replacement Cost or Actual Cash Value Coverage for Possessions
You can insure your possessions in two ways. You can either insure your belongings for their actual cash value or their replacement cost. A cash value policy pays the cost to replace your belongings minus depreciation. A replacement cost policy, on the other hand, reimburses you for the cost to replace the item.
Additional Living Expenses After a Disaster
This is a very important feature of a standard homeowner’s insurance policy. This pays the additional costs of temporarily living away from your home if you can’t live in it due to a hurricane, fire or other insured peril. It covers hotel bills, restaurant meals and other living expenses incurred while you are unable to inhabit your home. Flood insurance does not include additional living expense coverage, so this assistance will not be available when damages to a home occurred from flooding or storm surge. You will still be required to make your monthly mortgage payment even if your home is uninhabitable.