Hurricane Florence

Hurricane Florence is currently a Category Four storm and is expected to intensify, bringing with it potential storm surges, excessive rainfall, and damaging winds. With Hurricane Florence quickly approaching the East Coast and posing a serious threat to the State of Virginia, it’s a good time for condominium owners to refresh their memories about what coverages may be available following a loss.
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With Danny lurking out in the Atlantic, now is the time to dust off that disaster plan (hopefully there is one in place to dust off from past years) and review it and refresh your memories to make sure it is followed. Let’s face it; it has been ten years since a hurricane has affected South Florida. But don’t let your guard down. While this is predicted to be a less than active season (as it has shown so far) all it takes is one! We have discussed these items before in past years, but I thought now is as good a time as ever for a refresher post.


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Plan for the worst; hope for the best. This is an old adage that has taken shape in various places in the realm of planning. If you have really planned for the worst and given it thought, then the element of surprise is hopefully eliminated. The destructive impact of tornadoes in the Midwest and Texas cannot be understated. Residents of an apartment complex in Virginia Beach were surprised by when a plane crashed into their buildings; thankfully no one was hurt. Other areas of the country are on the verge of another hurricane and wildfire seasons.


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One of the best defenses against natural disasters is to have a disaster plan in place. Depending on where your association is in the United States, there are numerous disasters, such as earthquakes, wild fires, tornados, floods, and hurricanes that residents potentially face. Emergency planning has become an essential skill for association managers, who should understand what types of disasters are likely to occur, develop disaster response plans, practice them, and discuss them with the residents.


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As most of us know, June 1 was the beginning of the Atlantic Hurricane Season. Experts are again predicting a “highly active” year, and some opine that more than ten major hurricanes are possible. Coincidently, June 1 also came with significant changes to the laws regarding property insurance in Florida. As Jeremy Tyler mentioned on Monday, even the statute of limitations for filing a property damage lawsuit has been changed to five years from the date of the storm.


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Although Florida has not seen a major hurricane touch its shores since Hurricane Wilma in 2005, Citizens Property Insurance Corporation may be raising rates on many of its policyholders. Earlier this month, Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty approved additional rate increases that will affect thousands of insureds, including many condominium associations.


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The second named storm of the year has crossed Florida, and it will only be a matter of time before another tropical system strikes the state. While there are many problems that an association can face after a loss, few are harsher than the effect of a coinsurance penalty that reduces the amount paid on an otherwise valid claim. Many policies, especially large commercial polices, contain coinsurance provisions. Unfortunately, many directors and managers do not understand what they mean or the effect that they can have.


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As I mentioned last Friday in Hurricane Expert Revises Prediction, experts are predicting one “hell of a year” for hurricanes. While the Atlantic has not picked up yet, we have already seen the effects of Tropical Storm Agatha, which killed over 100 people in Central America and caused a large amount of property damage. This should be a wakeup call to complacent associations and should encourage those who have not begun preparing for a potential storm to do so.


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