In the next day or two, Idalia will slam parts of the Sunshine State with heavy rain, gusts of wind and possible flooding.
Idalia is also strengthening, which could mean damaged homes nearly a year after Hurricane Ian ravaged Florida’s Gulf Coast.
Here’s what to know about insurance ahead of Idalia hitting Florida:
Can you still get insurance?
It’s too late to purchase flood coverage for Idalia.
Insurance policies take 30 days to become effective. That means you can’t buy new coverage or change existing coverage over the course of a natural disaster event.
Florida insurers usually will put a hold on new insurance policies, called a moratorium, once a hurricane or tropical storm warning or watch is issued for the state.
The National Hurricane Center predicts that the storm will hit somewhere along Florida’s Big Bend area early Wednesday as a Category 3 hurricane. Idalia will bring 115 mph sustained winds and — most dangerously — up to 11 feet of storm surge. The heavily populated Tampa Bay area could see four to seven feet.
Nearly the entire Gulf Coast — along with Key West and the Lower Florida Keys — remained under hurricane, tropical storm and storm surge watches and warnings on Monday. The governor also declared a statewide state of emergency Saturday.
Why are insurance moratoriums in place?
Moratoriums are a standard insurance procedure when hazards strike — or are about to strike. They’re declared during natural disasters, such as wildfires, tornadoes, earthquakes and hurricanes.
Florida insurers enact a statewide moratorium once a storm watch has been issued by the National Weather Service for any county in the state. They aren’t based on the projected trajectory of the storm.
Moratoriums are lifted after the threat has passed. That timeline, however, timeline depends on the insurance company.
What should you do if you’re uninsured?
If you’re affected by a storm, you should file a claim with FEMA. To file a claim with FEMA, go to DisasterAssistance.gov or call 800-621-3362.
If you are uninsured, you’d have to wait for FEMA emergency grants to be issued. The average grant is only about $10,000.
Does car insurance cover storm damage?
Comprehensive car insurance covers storm-related damage to your vehicle, such as if a tree falls on your car or it is affected by flooding. It can also cover a garage collapsing on your vehicle if your home is severely damaged.
But you have to check if you opted into comprehensive insurance. About 80% of U.S. drivers are enrolled in this optional coverage.
Is there anything you should do before Idalia hits?
Before the storm, conduct a home inventory and take pictures or videos of your possessions, including furniture, clothing and electronics. Documenting your possessions can make the claim process easier.
The American Property Casualty Insurance Association also suggests gathering copies of your insurance policies and saving your insurer’s contact information.
“If your home or business is damaged in the storm, remember to contact your insurer as soon as possible to get the claims process started,” Logan McFaddin, vice president of state government relations for the association said in a statement.
“If you are ordered to evacuate, you do not have to wait until you get back home to file a claim,” McFaddin said. “You can file a claim while you are evacuated, which helps get your claim in the queue faster.”