Prepare Now for Flood Risk

florida flood risk

With Hurricane Harvey fresh in our minds, the Sarasota/Bradenton area is on alert watching the path of Hurricane Irma. While the effects of wind, such as damage from fallen trees, is likely covered under your homeowners insurance policy, less your deductible, damage from flooding is not. Therefore flood risk should be on everyone’s mind.

Part of our preparations for Hurricane Irma should include planning for the possibility of flooding.  Here are a few things you can do to before the storm arrives:

  • Evaluate your flood risk. How likely is it that your home or business will flood? Even if you’re not in an official flood zone, you still might be at risk for flooding under the right circumstances. Twenty-five percent of all flood claims come from the preferred zones B, C and X.
  • Know how to stay informed with alerts and information, whether you monitor local radio or TV stations, or listen to a NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards receiver. Make plans for how you’ll stay informed if the power goes out.
  • Understand the difference between a flood watch (flooding is possible in your area) and a flood warning (flooding is happening or is about to happen in your area), and be prepared to evacuate if public officials tell you to do so.
  • Know your best evacuation routes, and plan ahead of time where you’ll stay if you have to evacuate.
  • Make a plan for communicating with friends and family. Write down and keep with you copies of important numbers, don’t just store them in your phone.
  • Gather items you’ll need to take with you if you have to evacuate. Include clothes, food, water, first aid items, money, phones and chargers, and important documents such as insurance policies, home inventories, personal identification, and prescriptions. Also include any irreplaceable items like pictures or other mementos.
  • If you have valuable or sentimental items you’re not taking with you, bag them or put them in plastic bins if possible, and place them in the highest safe spot in your home.
  • Consider buying flood insurance for the future. Lakewood Financial represents several private companies that write flood insurance policies at a more competitive rate than those of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). These policies also have higher available limits than the NFIP’s standard policies.  (Click here for a flood insurance quote.) 

According to insurance experts, only about 20 percent of the victims of the devastating floods in the Houston area following Hurricane Harvey had flood insurance. The remaining 80 percent will have to find a way to rebuild with only the possibility of federal disaster relief, which comes in the form of low-interest loans which have to be repaid, or Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster grants, which are typically not nearly large enough to cover the damage.

Floods are America’s most common and costly natural disaster, according to FEMA. They cause millions of dollars of damage a year, and can happen anywhere. Don’t wait until the water’s rising to prepare.

Give Lakewood Financial a call at 941-747-4600 if you have any questions about flood insurance, or if you’d like a quote. We are here to help.

Five Things to Do Now to Prepare for Hurricane Season

Hurricane SeasonThe start of the 2017 hurricane season is just 10 days away. Are you ready? If you’ve lived in Florida for any length of time, you know how much havoc a storm can cause. Better to spend an hour or two now to save a lot of stress and worry when a storm is bearing down on you.

Here are five things to do NOW to prepare before a hurricane blows your way:

  • Inspect your home and yard. Now is the time to make any necessary repairs to your roof (if you replace your roof, be sure to get a wind mitigation report—it could save you money on your homeowners insurance), cut down dead tree limbs, or buy any necessary storm shutters, plywood, or braces for your garage door. Also make note of any lawn furniture, children’s play equipment, or potted plants that might need to be moved so a hurricane’s high winds don’t turn them into flying hazard.
  • Check evacuation and flood zones (they aren’t the same). If you live in an evacuation zone, familiarize yourself with the route, and make plans now for where you’ll go. If you don’t have to evacuate, consider offering friends or family who must evacuate a place to stay. Tip: Keep your vehicles gassed up during hurricane season, just in case you need to get out of town quickly.
  • Create or update your Disaster Supply Kit. Make sure you have plenty of medicines, food, water, batteries, pet supplies, and other crucial items on hand. Include a portable NOAA radio, and if you have a landline, a corded phone (portable cordless phones won’t work if there’s a power outage). Click here for a full description of what your Disaster Supply Kit should contain, or visit Manatee County’s Hurricane Readiness Center (see link below) for more information.
  • Collect copies of important documents, such as driver’s licenses, and insurance policies, and make sure you have your insurance agent’s contact information.   Take pictures of your home and belongings if you haven’t already done a full home inventory, and store those pictures someplace that won’t be affected by the storm, either online or with a friend or family member outside of Florida.
  • Review your insurance policies. What is your hurricane deductible? Do you have flood insurance? Standard homeowners policies do not come with flood coverage, but flood insurance is more affordable than ever, so you might want to look into buying it. 

Don’t let a hurricane catch you unprepared. Take time now to prepare your home and your family for any coming storms. And remember, Lakewood Financial is here to help you. Please contact us or call us 941-747-4600 if you have any questions about hurricane or flood coverage.

For more information, please visit:

 Manatee County Emergency Management

Printable disaster kit checklists

https://www.ready.gov/hurricanes

Wrap Up 2016 With an Insurance Review

Now that the holidays are winding down, you may be thinking about your goals and plans for 2017. If one of those plans is improving your financial condition, one way you can do this is to conduct a review of your current insurance coverage. Your goal is to have the right amount of coverage for your needs, at the best price.

First, look over your policies to remind yourself of your current coverage and deductibles, insurance premiums, and discounts. Then consider how your life has changed in the past year. Did you get married, divorced, or have a baby? Do any of your children now have driver’s licenses? All these changes should be reflected in your insurance portfolio. Here are a few additional specifics to consider:

Auto Insurance

Is it time to raise your deductible or drop comprehensive and collision coverage? Has your commute changed? Do you have additional drivers in your household who are not listed on your policy? Are you receiving all the discounts, such as safe driver or multi-car, that you’re eligible for?

Homeowners Insurance

If your home were destroyed, would your coverage be adequate to replace it at today’s construction costs? Do you have enough coverage for your personal possessions? You may need to increase your coverage limits if you’ve made improvements to your home, or bought or received as gifts expensive items such as computers, jewelry, or art.

If you’re thinking of raising your deductible as a way to save money on your premium, would you have the resources you need to pay that deductible if you have a claim?

You may be eligible for discounts on your homeowners insurance if your alarm system is monitored. You’ll need to provide a certificate from your monitoring company to receive the discount. If you’ve recently replaced your roof, ask your insurance agent how you can benefit from a wind mitigation report.

Flood Insurance

The entire state of Florida is at risk for flooding. Even if you don’t live in a so-called high-risk area, if you don’t have flood insurance, you might want to consider buying it.  We represent several private companies that write flood insurance policies at a competitive rate.

Umbrella Policy

An umbrella policy is additional liability insurance, beyond your home and auto insurance, which protects your assets from a lawsuit. If your assets have increased, you will want to make sure you have enough coverage, or if you don’t currently carry an umbrella policy, you might want to consider purchasing one.

Life Insurance

If you’re the breadwinner, what would happen to your family if you die? A life insurance policy is one way to provide for them after you’re gone. In addition, although life insurance is mainly intended to replace lost income, consider buying life insurance for a non-working spouse or domestic partner. It can quickly become expensive to replace the work he or she does to keep your household running.

Because insurance is an important part of your financial life, it’s good to review your policies from time to time to be sure your coverage remains in line with your assets and liabilities. Remember, if you have any questions about your policies, Lakewood Financial is here to help.