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A Quick Guide to Preparing Your Home for a Hurricane

The official hurricane season may start in the summer, but there is no better time than now to start preparing your home for the strong winds, torrential rain, storm surges and other hard weather conditions that usually accompany a major storm. From hurricane-proofing your garage door to trimming the landscape, here are a few tips to help you protect your home from a storm.

We decided to enlist an expert to help cover the basics on preparing some of the major parts of your home for a storm if left to chance. Scott Fabacher, Miami-based owner of Advanced Overhead Doors & Service, will share tips to keep yourself and your garage, windows, doors and other parts of your home safe in order to avoid or limit costly damage to your home.


The first step to staying safe during the hurricane season is storm-proofing your garage door. Since the garage door is usually the largest opening in most homes, a breach has the potential to cause severe damage to your entire home. If strong winds make their way inside the garage, the pressure inside can build up to extreme levels and blow off your entire roof. A garage door breach can also damage a home’s foundation and cause water to seep in, not to mention the loss to your car and other items stored in the garage.

A wind load rated garage door that meets your area’s requirements for hurricane resilience is one of the best ways to protect your home and your family. As an additional precaution, make sure that the mounting area and track that holds the garage door in place are secure and well fitted. You may also consider installing extra reinforcements to your existing garage door.

Some insurance companies offer discounts to homeowners who have taken steps to minimize hurricane damage to their homes. Think about talking to your insurance agent way in advance, and find out what is included in your policy.

Doors and windows

If you don’t have hurricane shutters, you can use plywood sheets that are between 0.5 and 0.75 inches thick to cover large openings like windows or skylights during a storm.

For your doors, adding a third hinge or a deadbolt with a bolt throw of at least one inch can provide extra protection. If you have a set of double doors, because of the larger opening and length, consider adding header and footer bolts for reinforcement and extra support.


Since the roof of a house is bound to bear the brunt of any bad weather, you need to make sure your roof is in great shape before the first storm of the season.

If your budget doesn’t allow you to hire a professional roofing contractor for a roof inspection, the next best thing is to walk around your house, looking carefully for any signs of problems areas on the roof. Missing or cracked shingles, loose nails, and rust spots on the flashing are clear signs that you need to get some roof repairs done before the hurricane season.

Finally, make sure the rain gutters and downspouts are free of debris and tightly fastened to the main structure of your home.


Make sure your yard is clear of any debris or loose objects such as trash cans, patio chairs or tables that can get picked up and tossed about by strong winds.

Objects that are too big to bring indoors can be securely tied down with rope or strong straps. Trees that are too close to your home can pose a huge threat during a storm and should be trimmed.

Of course, these steps do not guarantee that your home will make it through the next storm with zero damage. However, they will help you ensure that you spend far less time and money on repairs after the storm has passed.

Planning in advance makes the difference between having an extremely stressful time preparing for a storm or a more calm time, since you took the necessary steps in advance and mainly need to focus on the basics, like food, water and batteries.

It’s not easy to get motivated to do all of these things without a hurricane watch taking place, but if you can take a few minutes to pick one or two items and do a basic inspection to see what condition your roof, doors, windows or garage are in and call a professional for anything big you won’t regret it.

Are you ready for the 2014 hurricane season?

hurricaneAre you ready for the 2014 hurricane season?  If you have not already prepared, the time is now to prepare for hurricane season.  While the experts are predicting a below average hurricane season, it only takes one storm to cause chaos.  Remember that Hurricane Andrew was the first named storm of the 1992 hurricane season.  And if you were around in Miami in 1992, well then you just don’t need any reminding of the damage a hurricane can cause.  On the other end spectrum, we are reminded that even late in the year storms can cause extensive damage.  Hurricane Wilma in 2005 caused extensive damage right here in South Florida.

Advanced preparation is critical because right before a storm hits, supermarkets and home improvement stores are jam-packed with last minute shoppers.

Waiting until the last minute on important supplies is especially dangerous because items fly off the shelves and you risk being left without necessary supplies. It also important to stock enough supplies to last you through a storm and beyond.

The National Hurricane Center recommends including these items in your hurricane survival kit:

• Water – at least 1 gallon daily per person for 3 to 7 days

• Food – at least enough for 3 to 7 days

• Car chargers and back up car batteries

• Non-perishable packaged or canned food / juices

• Foods for infants or the elderly

• Snack foods

• Non-electric can opener

• Cooking tools / fuel

• Paper plates / plastic utensils

• Blankets / Pillows, etc.

• Clothing – seasonal / rain gear/ sturdy shoes

• First Aid Kit / Medicines / Prescription Drugs

• Special Items – for babies and the elderly

• Toiletries / Hygiene items / Moisture wipes

• Flashlight / Batteries

• Radio – Battery operated and NOAA weather radio

• Telephones – Fully charged cell phone with extra battery and a traditional (not cordless) telephone set

• Cash (with some small bills) and Credit Cards – Banks and ATMs may not be available for extended periods

• Keys

• Gas for your car

• Toys, Books and Games

• Important documents – in a waterproof container or watertight resealable plastic bag

insurance, medical records, bank account numbers, Social Security card, etc.

• Tools – keep a set with you during the storm

• Vehicle fuel tanks filled

• Pet care items

• Proper identification / immunization records / medications

• Ample supply of food and water.

Predicting the 2014 Hurricane Season

Predicting the 2014 Hurricane Season.

The 2013 hurricane season went down in the record books as one of the tamest on record.  Recall that 2013 was supposed to be a very busy season especially in light of the fact that 2012, 2011 and 2010 produced at least 19 named storms each season.  Yet 2013 only produced only two hurricanes.                                                                                                                 Hurricane2014Forecast

If the predictions hold, then 2014 promises to be just as uneventful as 2013.  The experts predict 2014 to be comprised of 9 named storms, three hurricanes and one major hurricane.

It is never to early to start planning for hurricane season.

2014 Hurricane Season

Are You Financially Prepared for Hurricane Season?

Hurricane.jpgAre You Financially Prepared for Hurricane Season? Here in South Florida we all know the devastation of hurricanes and the destruction they can cause. One of the most expensive things you could lose during a hurricane would be your home. For this reason it is extremely important for homeowners to be prepared financially for hurricane season. It is often the case that many Floridians are not prepared to protect their home or their finances during hurricane season.

The most important thing to do going into hurricane season is making sure that you have hurricane coverage. Check all your insurance policies and if you can not locate your policy don’t hesitate to call your insurer and ask these pressing questions regarding your home. This goes along with making sure you have all sufficient documents needed in the case of a hurricane.

However, hurricane season has already started. So now is the time to take a look at your property insurer to determine whether your insurer is in good financial health. In the event of major storm, you don’t want to be stuck with an insurance company that is going broke as it will negatively impact your claim. Worse, it could leave you in a position where you will be unable to fully recover money for repairs that you are entitled to receive despite the fact that you paid your premiums.

Next you must insure that you have adequate proof of damage. Make sure that you take pictures or videos of the damage immediately after assessing it. Also if any conditions worsen make sure to document them so that your insured will cover all your damages.

So remember heading into hurricane season you must double check your policies to make sure you are fully covered for hurricanes. Once you have done that make sure you have all proper documentation needed to make a claim. And lastly in the event of a hurricane make sure to document all of your damage. These tips should help you to protect your home and your money in the case of a disaster.

Is Your Business Ready If a Hurricane Strikes?

hurricane-recovery.jpgIt is vital for every business owner or professional to have a disaster plan in place that includes knowing how to assess damage, understanding how to properly file an insurance claim, and make the required repairs to get back to work as quickly as possible. Taking the wrong approach, or simply mishandling your potential insurance claim, could cost you a lot of money with respect to any claim that may ultimately be submitted to your insurance company.

In an effort to aid your hurricane season preparation, here are some suggestions that could assist you during this upcoming hurricane season’s adequately prepare.

• Make sure to copy and safely store your pertinent documents. For instance, make sure you have a copy of your property and casualty, as well as a copy of your business interruption insurance policy, and a copy of your lease agreement. You should maintain hard copies of these important documents in the event of a long-term power outage, but you should also store these documents digitally and off-site in a secure electronic environment. You should also safely store these documents in a manner that will allow you to gain very quick access to them in the event of a catastrophe.

• You should also safely make the appropriate arrangements to have copies of your last four years of income tax returns, and the last six months of your profit and loss statements safely secured. You’ll need the financial data in the event that you have to make a business interruption claim, and you will need physical copies of these documents should you not be able to gain access to them electronically.

• Keep an updated account of your inventory, and print that out as well. Be sure to inventory all of your office supplies such as computers, desk, chairs and paper since you can recover those losses. You should photograph all of these items as well.

• If you rent space, then it is imperative that you keep a copy of your lease agreement in a safe place along with all of the aforementioned other documents.

• Make sure to take photographs and/or video of your entire workspace, including your inventory and office supplies.

• Make sure to collect emergency contact information for all of your employees, suppliers, and vendors.

• Work with your senior staff to prepare a plan for a storm, fire, flood or other emergency. What are the contingencies that will allow you to get back to work quickly, and what are the variables that will prompt a long term shut down. Who will be in charge of getting your network back up? Who will be in charge of contacting your major clients? Who will be in charge of handling your insurance claim? Assigning these responsibilities in a calm environment prior to a storm striking will only aid the smooth transition to get back to work after a storm strikes South Florida.

• If you own the property, hire a licensed inspector or contractor to examine the roof, interior and other structural components in advance to the store. You do not want the insurance company to deny your claim by saying that your property had pre-existing damage. The best way to combat that argument is to conduct the appropriate inspection today.

• Prepare a list of preferred contractors that you can call on for all necessary repairs. Don’t wait for the insurance company to find someone. If the storm was a catastrophe, then that aid will be difficult to come by. Indeed, it will be incumbent upon you to repair your damages, and the best way to do that is to contact a contractor today and make arrangements to insure prompt repairs after a storm strikes out Florida.

• Communication is vital to any recovery. Make sure you have a plan for proper communication and one should anticipate disruptions in communications services, possibly for extended periods of time.
Consider Your Options. Call Us Today.

Considering the increased odds of South Florida getting hit by a storm you should take the necessary steps to safeguard your property and business. That is particularly true since history suggests that South Florida is due for a hurricane strike. Therefore, this is certainly not the season to take lightly. We’ve been spared the last few years, but this could be the year where we are hit by another hurricane. Hurricanes are a fact of life living in South Florida. Although inevitable, they are not surprises like earthquakes or tsunamis. You can prepare and be ready for a hurricane. Call us today to discuss your hurricane preparation in greater detail.

Time to Start Preparing for the 2013 Hurricane Season

Depositphotos_6176626_S.jpgWith Memorial Day right around the corner, many are making plans for the holiday. Some may be going on vacation and some may be planning a BBQ.

But once the holiday weekend is over, we must start preparing for the 2013 hurricane season, which officially starts on June 1st.

Many native South Floridians have been dealing with hurricanes since they were young children and simply brush off hurricane season without preparation. However, must we remind you of the damage caused by Hurricane Andrew or even the more recent Hurricane Wilma, the second worst hurricane in Florida history?

Advanced preparation is vital because right before a storm hits, supermarkets and home improvement stores are jam-packed with last minute shoppers. Waiting until the last minute on important supplies is especially dangerous because items fly off the shelves and you risk being left without necessary supplies. It also important to stock enough supplies to last you through a storm and beyond.

The National Hurricane Center recommends including these items in your hurricane survival kit:

The 2013 Hurricane Season Promises to be a Busy One

images (1).jpgAccording to recent reports, we should anticipate a busy hurricane season in 2013.

Higher than normal temperatures in the Atlantic, among other factors, hint at a busier than normal hurricane season. Indeed, the past three years have been fairly active as each of the past three seasons have produced 19 named storms. However, South Florida has been spared a direct hit from a major storm since Hurricane Wilma passed through South Florida in October of 2005.

Last year, Superstorm Sandy was the most memorable storm of the season causing $75 billion in damages just before the presidential election.

This year, forecasters are predicting the following:

16 total storms;
9 hurricanes;
4 major hurricanes.

Predicting this season is also less predictable than in years past. The reason being is that this year there is no El Nino or La Nina.

The official hurricane season forecast by the National Hurricane Center comes out in late May, and hurricane season starts on June 1st.

It is never too early to start planning for hurricane season.

Making the Best Out of the Worst: Former Florida Insurance Commissioner Reflects on the Aftermath of Hurricane Andrew.

220px-HurricaneAndrew.jpgAs we head towards another legislative session where property insurance will no doubt be front and central, it is important to look back and reflect on the impact powerful hurricanes have had on our great state.

Hurricane Andrew was no doubt a game changer. On August 24, 1992, the storm that no one thought could happen, destroyed South Florida. Former Florida Insurance Commissioner Tom Gallagher reflected on the devastation left in the wake of Andrew. Everything was leveled, “everything was gray and black. There was no green. The palm trees had no palms.” At first he couldn’t comprehend the impact, so at the urging of his sister, Gallagher went to see it himself. He eventually took many insurance executives on trips with him; it needed to be seen to be understood. The trips helped to an extent, and many policyholders received payouts to help with the destruction. But many providers indicated they were leaving the state or were significantly cutting back their coverage to those properties on the coast. To make matters worse, no one was there to pick up the non-renewed or cancelled policies. Gallagher knew he had to do something.

He attempted to slow the escape of many national carriers by instituting a 90-day rule that required providers to give notice of the cancellation or non-renewal. While the providers may have not been happy about the regulations, including those that limited the percentage of policies they could not renew, the companies weren’t in a place to argue. Gallagher also extended the reach of the Florida Property and Casualty Joint Underwriting Association (PCJUA) to include residential coverage for those homeowners insured by insolvent carriers. PCJUA was previously limited to last-resort coverage for commercial properties. This extension eventually led to the creation of the Residential PCJUA, the predecessor of Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, now the largest residential insurer in Florida.

Other changes ensued, state legislators authorized the issuance of almost $500 million in tax-free bonds to fund a shortfall at the state guaranty fund, and established the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund. With no one looking to invest in the policies left behind; the Florida government had to invest in them itself. Gallagher didn’t want to take these actions because of the effect it might have on citizens in the long run, but Andrew’s destruction left him no viable option.

What lessons are to be learned from these events? There are many. But two big ones stick out. Don’t let insurance companies skirt from their financial obligations. And make sure Florida homeowners are protected above and beyond the insurance companies’ financial interests

The Aftermath of Tropical Storm Isaac in South Florida – What Do You Do If Your Property Was Damaged or Flooded? What About Your Business?

tropical_storm_issac,_generic_medium.jpgTens of thousands of homes and businesses remained without power Monday across South Florida as the remnants of Tropical Storm Isaac continue to wreak havoc for South Florida residents and businesses alike.

Heavy rains, and hail, have caused wide spread flooding and property damage. Strong wind gusts has caused trees to fall which has resulted in extensive property damage throughout South Florida.

Our storm damage attorneys stand prepared to assist you during this time of heavy rain and chaos. But now is also the time to ensure that you remain pro-active to protect yourself, your property and your business.

This significant weather event may have caused damage to your home, your property, or even your business. It is of critical importance that your damage be properly documented.

Start by taking photographs of the damages and properly inventorying your damage. Damage to your personal contents is of particular importance since it could be both time consuming and emotional to document.

Also, please take the necessary efforts to stop any further damage with your property as a result of the wind and rain coming from Tropical Storm Isaac. Keep all receipts and paperwork associated with such efforts and any emergency repairs you may need to take.

It will also be critical to determine whether or not your claim is a result of flooding, or wind. This distinction is critical to understand and in assessing your rights and applicable coverage available to you as a result of the damage sustained thanks to Tropical Storm Isaac.

What about your business? Well, if you have a business interruption policy then you may have coverage available to you as a result of Miami-Dade County Mayor’s decision to issue an evacuation order for people living in mobile home parks, unsafe structures, and areas prone to flooding. He also closed the Port of Miami.

As a result of this Order, businesses have been ordered to close until further notice. Such an order is commonplace when a natural disaster threatens, like Tropical Storm Isaac.

If your business purchased standard business income coverage then it is likely that your policy provides coverage for any loss of income caused by the Mayor’s decision to issue an evacuation order and close the Port of Miami.

Our firm stands ready to assist with your property damage needs and to battle with your insurance company to ensure proper compensation for your insurance claim. Whether you are a resident with damaged property, or a business owner who has sustained an interruption to your business as a result of Tropical Storm Isaac, call us today for a free consultation.

Our Miami Hurricane Insurance Claim Lawyers are Monitoring Tropical Storm Isaac as it Approaches South Florida

sns-tropical-storm-isaac-20120822.jpgOur Miami storm damage attorneys continue to report that South Florida has entered the height of hurricane season. Indeed, Tropical Storm Isaac is yet another named storm of what promises to be an active hurricane season.

Tropical Storm Isaac has already left an impact on Haiti and Cuba, and was heading for South Florida.

The move prompted a warning from the National Hurricane Center in Miami that Tropical Storm Isaac will likely intensify prior to making landfall.

More than a million people in the Caribbean have seen power cut off

Projections for South Florida

Most computer forecast models show Tropical Storm Isaac traveling through South Florida and making an eventual landfall through the Florida Keys.

If you are facing a dispute over an insurance claim in Florida, contact Alvarez & Barbara, LLP toll free at 866-518-2913 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

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