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Florida prepares for 2018 hurricane season after big Irma losses

Hurricane Irma in 2017 reminded state residents of their vulnerability to devastating hurricanes. To prepare for the 2018 season, government officials, emergency management teams and insurance companies have urged people to get ready by stocking supplies, preparing an evacuation plan and evaluating insurance coverage. These steps might prove beneficial because the forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts a 75 percent chance that the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season will be normal or above normal. The season could produce five to nine hurricanes with at least one qualifying as a major storm.

The Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund has announced that it has $17.3 billion to pay damage claims this year. Officials expect the fund to be more than sufficient to cover damage this season. The heavy losses attributed to Hurricane Irma resulted in claims of about $2 billion for the catastrophe fund.

According to the state's Office of Insurance Regulation, about 90 percent of residential property claims had been resolved by April 6, 2018. As of the same month, the state tallied the insured losses from Irma at $8.6 billion. The state insurance commissioner has recommended that residents seriously consider flood risks and buy flood insurance. The state is prone to flooding at any time of year, he said, and hurricanes greatly raise the risk of storm surges and heavy rain.

In the aftermath of a storm, a property owner typically needs to file an insurance claim. Because of the large amounts of money often involved, a person has a right to consult an attorney knowledgeable about hurricane damage claims during this process. An attorney may decide to examine an insurance policy and provide insights about available coverage. Legal representation might also help a person challenge a denial or settlement reduction.

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