Mitigation Measures to Protect Your Family, Yourself and Your Property

Tips from the Windstorm Damage Mitigation Training and Demonstration Center

Tip #1 – Steps You Can Take to Reduce Wind Damage Vulnerability to Your Home

  • Roof Bracing
    (Gable ends and truss), hurricane plates & straps
  • Roof Strengthening
    Apply (without re-roofing) an AFG-01 rated adhesive or a moisture sealing foamed polyurethane sheathing adhesive between  the roof sheathing and rafters.
  • Window and Door Coverings
    Is your shuttering system and all the parts (screw, bolts, nuts, tools) accessible (panels and plywood). Test and clean accordion and roller shutters. Entry doors 3 hinge minimum, with dead bolt security with minimum one-inch bolt throw length. Double entry door – apply head and foot bolts on inactive door.
  • Garage Doors
    Failure due to high winds increases the chances of losing all or part of the roof; the most vulnerable part of your home to hurricane force winds. Options include replacing a weak door with a new system designed for high winds or retrofitting an existing door
  • Outside and Surrounding Your Home
    Make a list of loose items that should be put inside or tied down, such as patio furniture, garbage   cans, plants, etc. Don't forget the TV antenna or satellite dish.

Tip #2 - Review & Update Your Family Hurricane

The outline that specifies what every member of the family will do before, during and after a hurricane. Write it down. Once a storm hits, it is too late.

  • Identify your vulnerabilities
    Do elderly loved ones live with you -- or will they come stay with you as a storm approaches? Are your children safe? Are the pets safe? Have you purchased all of your family hurricane supplies - food, water (one gallon per person per day), batteries, personal hygiene items, and medicine for at least two weeks? Is your insurance current? Do you have copies of all your important documents and are they in a safe place?  Is the house and yard in order? Have you reviewed the family evacuation and communication plans?

Tip#3 -- Key Items Every Home Owner Should Check For in Their Insurance Policy

  • Do You Have/Need Windstorm Coverage?
    Some standard homeowners’ policies do not cover windstorm, i.e., hurricanes. If you cannot get coverage, the state run program Florida’s Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, which      provides Tips from the Windstorm Damage Mitigation Training and Demonstration Center Page 2 of 4 homeowners insurance to consumers who cannot find coverage in the private market, can assist you.

    ** NOTE: According to the Florida Insurance Council, about 36,000 Florida homeowners paid more than one deductible for the 2004 hurricanes. Florida lawmakers passed a bill in December 2004 that eliminated multiple hurricane deductibles.
  • Hurricane Deductible
    (the amount the homeowner is responsible for out [out-of pocket] of the total damages to the home; usually stated as a percentage of the policy limits – based on the value of the insured property, not the estimate of damage).  It applies only to hurricane claims. By Florida statute, windstorm losses resulting from “a storm system that has been declared to be a hurricane by the National Hurricane Center of the National Weather Service.” triggers the application of hurricane deductibles (claims). They take effect “at the time a hurricane watch or warning is issued for any part of Florida” and remain in effect “for the time period during which the hurricane conditions exist anywhere in Florida,” ending 72 hours following the termination of the last hurricane watch or warning. Currently, consumers can choose either a 2 or 5 percent deductible (based on the property structure valuation). Most choose 2 percent. Wind damage from storm systems other than declared hurricanes is not subject to the hurricane deductible but to the general deductible.  Hurricane deductibles and their triggers are set by law and are the same for the private, or regular market, as well as Florida’s Citizens Property Insurance Corporation.
  • Flood Insurance
    Flood and wind damage are usually covered in separate policies.  Homeowners without flood insurance may qualify through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). NOTE: This process involves a 30-day waiting period between the time the policy is purchased and when it takes effect!
  • Actual Cash Value
    The depreciated value of property damaged in a storm.
  • Replacement Cost
    The amount needed to replace or repair your damaged property with materials of similar kind and quality, without deducting for depreciation.
  • Ordinance or Law Coverage
    If the cost of repairing or replacing an insured dwelling increases due to a local building ordinance or law, the insurance company will not pay the additional amount, unless this coverage is added to the policy. A homeowner’s agent MUST offer this coverage and some companies automatically include this in their coverage.
  • Additional Living Expenses
    Homeowner’s packages provide additional living expense coverage that will pay some extra expenses if damage to your home required you to live somewhere else while it is being repaired. Policies may designate a limit of coverage for additional living expenses. The insurance company is not obligated to pay this amount in advance or in full. The policyholder must keep receipts for expenses and submit them to the insurance company for reimbursement. 
  • Limited Coverage
    What the policy covers and excludes. Coverage is usually limited on valuables like jewelry, silverware, antiques, guns, boats, etc. You might want/need additional coverage.
  • Florida's Toll-Free Insurance Consumer Help Line: 1-800-342-2762 or 1-800-528-7094

Tip#4 - Taking Inventory

If you made any improvements and/or updates to your home this year, i.e.: new roof; storm shutters; windows; air conditioning; appliances; furniture; carpeting/tile; or patio screening, then it is time to notify your insurance provider and update your homeowner’s policy. Having an up-to-date inventory is he best way to arrive at a replacement cost value for your home and the contents (purchasing the correct $ amount). An inventory helps to settle future claims faster, as well as verify any losses for your income tax return.

  • Start by making a List
    (not just the “big ticket” items, but also a comprehensive list of your possessions). Go room-by-room, closet-by-closet. Don’t forget to go in the garage (lawn maintenance equipment, tools, and appliances), and outside (lawn furniture, BBQ, planters, A/C, heat pumps, generators, etc.).  Document each item; describe it, record the make and model and where you bought it. Attach any sales receipts, purchase contracts, and appraisals you have to the list. Count items of clothing by category – i.e., pants, coats, shoes, and make notes about any that are particularly valuable. Record major appliance and electronic equipment serial numbers (typically found on the back or bottom).  **Don’t forget about window treatments, area rugs and linens.
  • Other Ways to Document
    Photos #1: Take pictures of rooms and important individual items. On the back of the photos, note the item, where you bought it and the make or model. Do not forget to inventory closets and drawers. Photos #2: Take digital photos and save on disc/CD/computer. Videotape: walk through your house or apartment videotaping and describing the contents. You can also do the same thing using a tape recorder.

    ***HINT – Spread collections over a flat surface (dining table, bed, kitchen counter) and photograph as a group – note each item in inventory.
  • Storage
    Keep your inventory current. When you make a significant purchase, add the information to your inventory while the details are fresh in your mind Put photos and descriptions on a CD and/or Scan it onto your computer’s hard drive.  Make a copy, but keep the original, along with receipts, in your safe deposit box or at a friend's or relative's home. Email yourself the information – keep it in cyberspace – where you can access it from any computer.

Tip #5 - Inventory Software

Computer personal finance software packages often include a room-by-room inventory program. If you don't already have household inventory software, you can download the Insurance Information Institute’s easy-to-use free home inventory program for consumers .   A VERY COMPREHENSIVE “Home Inventory Item Lists” guide is available at http://www.knowyourstuff.org/homeinventory_lists.pdf.    Another useful site is http://www.fldfs.com/Consumers/Guides/HomeChecklist.pdf

Tip #6 – Condominium Living

Find out if and what type of coverage your condominium association provides. You may need a personal policy for the interior of your individual unit.

Tip #7 – Renters

Renter’s insurance for loss of personal property due to perils (fire, hurricanes, etc.) is available. The best way to arrive at a replacement cost value for your personal items is to have an up-to-date inventory. 

For More Information, Please Contact:
Joanne Cooper, Family & Consumer Sciences Agent,  St. Johns County Extension Office,
Wind Mitigation Building
(904) 209-0432 or  jcooper@ifas.ufl.edu