Elsa takes aim at Fort Myers, Tampa & Naples Florida.

If you own a home in the Gulf Coast of Florida, now is the time to prepare for hurricane season.  The recent visit by hurricane, then tropical storm Elsa, should be a clear sign that there is more storm and hurricane activity in the near future.  As a Tampa public adjuster, we have found that the warm waters of Florida’s Gulf Coast create the perfect conditions for home damage.  In this article we will provide some helpful facts and information on how a homeowner can prepare for the approaching storm and hurricane season.

Map of Tampa showing hurricane Elsa's path up the Florida coast line.
As Hurricane Elsa traveled up South Florida’s west coast toward the Tampa, Naples and Fort Myers area, it left flooding, downed power lines and water damage. While the hurricane went from a tropical storm, to a hurricane and back to a storm, the home damage was manageable. Elsa never became a major storm. However, this is the earliest a South Florida hurricane ever hit. If you live in the Gulf Coast of Florida, you should prepare from more storms and hurricanes.

This is the time of the year that many Tampa area insurance companies dread. 

When the Florida weather is calm and few insurance companies are paying out damage claims, it’s easy to forget about possible home damage.  However, once we move into hurricane season a different picture emerges. Check out this article that mentions how insurance companies canceled policies at the start of hurricane season.

Once storm and hurricane season arrives our phone starts ringing with frustrated Tampa homeowners who have had their home damage claims denied.  For many it seems so clear, your home suffered damage, from a fallen tree, heavy wind or lightning strike.  Since you have home insurance coverage, your next call is to your insurance agent, the agent sends out a insurance adjuster who visits your Tampa, Fort Myers or Naples home, Next the adjuster then tells you the cost of the roof repair is less than your deductible, then they proceed to tell you all the reasons why submitting a damage claim is a bad idea.  So you dip into your savings and pay to have the damage repaired.  For the next few weeks everything seems fine, after another storm, you notice a strange, musty smell.  Eventually you see subtle brown spots on your homes ceiling.  At first you may look and think that’s odd.  Then the spot spreads and becomes darker, soon it’s obvious you have a water damage problem.

Again, you call is to your insurance agent, the adjuster visits, and after looking over the situation you are told, the damage is the result of your old or unmaintained roof.  Your insurance claim is denied and you are left with more home damage and additional expenses.

This is a very common situation, as a Tampa public adjuster, we see this taking place all over Naples, Fort Myers and other Gulf Coast communities.  More on this later…

Tips to help avoid suffering home damage, and how to handle a home damage situation.

According to NOAA “the 2021 South Florida hurricane season is already off to a fast start, even faster than the 2020 season in several aspects.” For example, with Tropical Storm Elsa forming on July 1st, it is the earliest 5th named storm on record during the South Florida hurricane season. No one will know the exact number of storms and hurricanes in 2021, but one thing is clear: If you live in Tampa, Naples, Fort Myers, or any place in the Gulf Coast, you need to stop procrastinating and prepare for what will surely lie ahead.

  1. Consider the State of Your Insurance.

If you are not keen on reading every page of your homeowner’s insurance policy, contact your insurance agent and get every thing in writing explaining your coverage in the event of a storm or hurricane. Ask the agent to list the pages with the most crucial information. In the event you have flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program, you would have a cap, with the maximum of $250,000 for the dwelling and $100,000 for contents. If you are shocked by this low number, it is time to immediately find a supplemental policy.  As a Public Adjuster who serves the Tampa area, we are extremely knowledgeable when it comes to understanding insurance policies.  It’s our job to know all the terminology and understand how insurance companies deny or underpay damage claims.

  1. Consider the State of Your Roof.

Do you still have roof damage from last year? You can still file a claim under Florida law. Are you unsure whether you have missing shingles or other issues, did you have your roof inspected after last year’s hurricanes?  Are you aware that the building code for South Florida roofs changed in January of this year?   Now a roof needs to have an improved ability to withstand damage from wind and water.  So, if your roof is anywhere near the end of its useful life, it is in your best interest to either replace it entirely or have it inspected and brought up to the new required code.  Generally asphalt shingles, will typically last between 15 and 30 years, depending on the type of shingle.  A wooden shingle roof may last about 30 years. Do you have a metal roof? It may last between 40 and 70 years. These are averages according to www.roofingcalculator.com. However, a lot of this will depend on whether you take care of your roof properly, the weather, wear and tear from storms and other environmental factors, to name a few. Always keep your gutters clear and make sure your have proper drainage. Cut back any trees that may interfere with your roof.  Having worked as a Tampa public adjuster for over 20 years we can assist you with your roof damage by referring you to a high quality roofer.  If your roof has suffered damage, and you need insurance assistance submitting a claim we can also help with that.  Roof damage often results in very serious situations.  When a roof leak happens, rain water finds it way into your homes attic and will start growing mold in as little as 24-48 hours.  Once mold starts growing it could quickly spread throughtout your entire home.

Roof Damage in a Tampa Home
Once rain water starts leaking through your roof, stopping the leak is critical. The moisture will soak into your attics’s insulation and the mold growing process will start. Sometimes a company insurance adjuster will fix the roof and forget about the wet insulation. Or they will simply hope the moisture will evaporate.
  1. Consider the State of Your Windows.

How old are your windows? There are many signs your windows may need to be replaced. Does your house feel drafty around your windows? Are they impossible to open and close? Can you hear everything outside, even though you are inside? Are they cracked? In the event you decide to replace your windows, the Florida Building Code will require you to get a permit and will specify the types of windows you can buy. You may be required to get high-impact glass windows or hurricane shutters on other types of windows, depending upon your municipality and your location vis-à-vis likely hurricane areas. If you are sticking with your current windows, you will still need to find a solution. Plywood is not the best option, being difficult to attach and remove. Storm shutters will not warp and will be much simpler to put up and take down. There are even some that you can permanently attach to your windows.

  1. Consider Buying a Generator.

Living in Florida, you have probably lost power numerous times due to storms. You know the drill. The end of all your food, no A/C in stifling heat, and more disruptions. If you haven’t bought a generator yet, now may be the right time. There are two types – a standby generator or a backup generator. According to Home Serve the standby generator will run you between $1000 and $10,000; the beauty is that it automatically kicks in if your power goes out. On the other hand, a portable generator will run you between $400 and $1000 and can only power a few things. It may save your food, run a few lights, maybe a fan, but is extremely limited. Plus, you will have to handle the fuel yourself. There is also a greater risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.  We have a portable gas generator. When the power goes out, our small generator gives us enough power to run 2 refrigerators a fan, maybe a TV, although this won’t matter because when the power goes out so does the cable TV.   However, you need to decide what you can afford; don’t wait until every generator is sold out because a hurricane is coming in a few days!

two different types of power generators.
When the power goes out, a power generator is the best way to obtain any power. The gas powered generator on the left, could power a refrigerator, some fans, and other items that may not draw too much power. The generator on the right is a more permanent solution. Powered by propane gas, this type of generator will power on automatically when the power goes out. This type of generator can power your entire home.
  1. If You Did All You Could and Your Home is Damaged, Consider Hiring a Tampa Public Adjuster.

What is a Public Adjuster? Unlike your insurance agent, who is very friendly but only works for your insurance company, a Public Adjuster works for you. As a Public Adjuster in South Florida, our success depends on your successful settlement.  We have a complete understanding of the home damage insurance laws and are licensed and regulated by the State of Florida.   If your Gulf Coast home suffered a flood, or roof damage even mold issues and your insurance company is giving you the cold shoulder call us at (561) 789-4369   We will determine what needs to be done, and become your  personal insurance adjuster.  We know all the games many company insurance adjusters play.  It’s a fact, homeowners receive a much larger settlement when represented by a Tampa Public Adjuster.   In addition to serving Tampa we also serve Naples, Fort Meyers and the entire Gulf Coast.

If you do everything you can and something still happens, you can be at peace with yourself and not ask those pesky, “What if…” questions after the fact. The important thing is to find the weakest links and take care of them immediately. There are simple things such as having your gutters cleaned or trees trimmed that could make a difference. And, if you have a few cracked windows, at least replace them to start. Then, at the end of this hurricane season, you can breathe a sigh of relief, assess the state of your house, and see what needs to be done before the next hurricane cycle.