TAMPA BAY — Hurricane season fires up June 1 and the forecasters are predicting above-average activity in the tropics this year. Experts say checking up on your insurance policy is one of the simplest things you can do to make sure you're covered in the event of any disaster.
Tampa homeowner Adam Taylor says he never imagined his house would catch fire in the middle of the night as his family slept. But that is exactly what happened on Sept. 11, 2020.
The Taylors and their three young children escaped unharmed when a golf cart in the garage caught fire.
“There was smoke coming all throughout the house, all throughout the AC throughout the ductwork," said Adam.
The fire destroyed all of the family’s vehicles and damaged part of the house leading to hundreds of thousands of dollars in claims. Because their policy included replacement value versus the cash value of their belongings, insurance covered everything.
Veteran Insurance Agent Daryl Patrick, who owns the Tampa Bay Insurance Center, points out cash value only covers the current value of, say, your 10-year-old stove.
He advises using your cell phone to make a video recording of everything you own.
“Basically, walk through your house room-to-room and give a description of what is in there. And if you happen to know the value, just mention it,” Patrick said.
All of your property coverages, including hurricane and non-hurricane deductibles, are laid out on the declarations page of your policy. The hurricane deductible is always the larger deductible.
And for condo owners, there's more to consider than just the contents of your unit such as assessment coverage.
“You could be assessed by your condo association if something were to happen during a hurricane,” Patrick said.
You want to make sure everything outside the home is covered as well.
During the pandemic, thousands of Florida homeowners added pool enclosures and solar panels to their homes, none of which are covered in a typical policy. Those often require an additional endorsement you have to add to your policy.
To save money, check the property appraiser’s value on your home and compare it to the value on the policy. You may be over-insured.
And if you can afford it, ask for a higher deductible which could also help lower your premiums.
Lastly, you need to shop around. There are a number of property insurers in Florida and taking the time to get multiple quotes could save you money.