Floridians concerned about paying a large deductible in the event of a disaster
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – As Florida enters what is generally considered the most active and dangerous period of hurricane season, a new survey finds many residents have significant concerns about the potential impact of storms to disrupt their communities and lives. More than 1 in 4 Floridians have faced challenges with tree and debris removal following a storm, and more than two-thirds would like their local governments to plan ahead and line up debris removal services in advance so life can return to normal as quickly as possible following a disaster.
Those are some of the data points in the new survey conducted August 31-September 2 by “Get Ready, Florida!” – a long-running statewide public education initiative produced by the nonprofit FAIR Foundation. It serves to help Floridians plan, prepare, and respond to the threat of the annual six-month-long “mean season” of hurricanes and tropical storms.
The survey also revealed Floridians’ concerns about having adequate insurance coverage. The average hurricane deductible in Florida is $5,000, an amount that more than two-thirds of Floridians (68%) say they would find it difficult to pay. In addition, 1 in 6 Florida policyholders mistakenly believe their hurricane insurance would handle tree and debris removal from their yards – but it won’t. As those services are not covered in most policies, almost one-third of Floridians say they would be willing to pay something extra each month in order to have their policies cover these services.
“In the most hurricane-vulnerable state in the nation, millions of Floridians roll the dice by going without adequate insurance to help them through the ordeal,” said Jay Neal, president of the FAIR Foundation and a key partner in the survival initiative. “This survey shows that while many Floridians lack a clear understanding of what their insurance policy covers, they recognize the wisdom of having their cities and counties prepared to clean up the mess after a storm.”
The survey found that more than two-thirds of respondents (68%) would support their city or county acting before a disaster strikes to invest tax dollars in advance for contracted cleanup services, if and when needed, in order to ensure that resources are available to deploy immediately to clear massive debris and help a return to normal. Rather than wait in line for help to come, this would mean contracting with a disaster recovery or debris removal business in advance – to be treated as a priority, by providers with the resources and expertise to do the job quickly and efficiently. Since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, many communities in impact zones have adopted this practice.
“As increasingly powerful storms leave even bigger cleanup challenges, more and more local governments are recognizing that they can’t do it all themselves. By engaging the services of disaster response companies, local governments can then concentrate on their communities’ other immediate needs,” said Brittany Perkins Castillo, CEO of Deerfield Beach-based AshBritt Environmental, a nationally renowned rapid-response disaster recovery leading contractor.
Among the other key findings of the survey of 1,582 Florida voters:
- Most homeowner insurance policies carry separate, higher deductibles for hurricane damage. Among Florida homeowners, more than two-thirds (68%) would find paying a $5,000 hurricane deductible to be challenging at this time.
- More than 3 in 5 Floridians with homeowners’ or renters’ insurance (62%) are unsure what their policies cover following a storm.
- Despite the fact that most hurricane policies do not cover tree and debris removal from yards, 16% of Florida policyholders believe this benefit is included in their policy.
- More than 1 in 4 Floridians (27%) say they’ve experienced problems relating to yard debris or fallen trees following a storm. This includes 19% who say they have been blocked from their home or driveway, 11% who say they were stuck with large bills for debris removal, and 4% who say that they or a member of their household have been injured trying to remove debris out of the way.
- About one-third of Floridians (31%) say they would be willing to pay something extra each month in order for their policy to cover things like tree and debris removal or replacement of spoiled food.
“One of the great challenges Florida faces is that it adds enough people each year to fill an entire city, and those newcomers – and many who have lived here for years – don’t really know what they have and what they need when it comes to hurricane insurance,” said Craig Fugate, a Florida native who served as the top administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “Flooding is not covered by your homeowners insurance and requires a flood policy for protection, and flood risk is growing due to more extreme rainfall events during hurricane threats. It’s a good idea for everyone to check their insurance policies now, add flood coverage, and for local governments to get themselves as prepared as they can.”
The FAIR Foundation was conceived to create safer, stronger, and more resilient communities by educating consumers on the risks of water, wind, and other natural disasters, promoting wind and flood mitigation, and reducing uninsured risk. The Foundation works tirelessly with its team of corporate and individual sponsors to empower property owners to prevent avoidable losses before, during, and after catastrophic events. Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the FAIR Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The Foundation’s work enables and promotes practical solutions and protections by bringing consumers together with the best and brightest in industry and academia. Follow the FAIR Foundation online at FAIRFound.org, on Facebook (facebook.com/FAIRwatch), Twitter (@FAIRwatch), or LinkedIn.
Get Ready, Florida! is the comprehensive vehicle to make hurricane safety a year-round culture in Florida. This partnership is an ongoing effort to spur awareness, involvement, and action by millions of Floridians to take personal and collective responsibility for being prepared before, during, and after hurricane season. This initiative will serve as a bold model for disaster preparation amid a historic era of major storm activity, prompting the need for an aggressive approach to education and motivating the public. Lives will be protected and saved, and property better able to face the ravages of subsequent hurricane seasons, as a result of this critical initiative.
AshBritt Environmental is a national leader in disaster response. Now in its 28th year, AshBritt is a national turn-key rapid-response disaster recovery and environmental services contractor and has conducted more than 400 disaster response missions and 30 special environmental projects, successfully serving more than 600 clients. It has been directly involved in the recovery efforts of more than 60 federally declared disasters in 20 states. AshBritt has been a contractor for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for 20 years, including as prime contractor for the South Atlantic Division (AL, FL, GA, SC, NC) and the South Pacific Division (AZ, CA, NV, UT, NM).