Hurricane Matthew Changes the Landscape of the East Coastline

Hurricane Matthew has changed the landscape and left behind a swath of damage and erosion.  Although the damage is not as bad or originally expected from the strong Category 4 storm, experts still estimate as much as twenty-four percent (24%) of Florida’s east coastline was impacted with overwashed sand dunes and beach erosion.  These things are important to the beach and boardwalk and provide protection from tides and storm surge.

In Palm Beach County alone the damage sustained to the beaches could exceed the $29 million mark.  However, the damage extends up the coastline into Georgia and South Carolina as well.  A lot of times beaches and dunes can recover on their own.  But, after a major storm like Matthew, engineering and restoration will be necessary.

Hurricane Matthews Dune Damage in Florida

Hurricane Matthew Took a Big Bite Out of Southeastern States Beaches

The Aftermath of Hurricane Matthew and the High Hurricane Deductibles

Some people said Hurricane Matthew would change the geography of the East Coast. While Matthew had the potential to have a much more devastating impact, the damages from Matthew pale in comparison to what they could have been had there been a direct hit. Although thousands of claims have been filed, lots of folks in the insurance industry were prepared for record-setting claim volume but were left very confused when it didn’t turn out as expected.

Matthew was certainly a serious storm and lots of people lost their homes, businesses, and personal belongings. However, from an insurance claims perspective, the volume was only a fraction of what was expected. So what’s the real reason that claims weren’t filed? Hurricane deductibles.

On the East Coast, most carriers apply a hurricane deductible for any damages caused by a named hurricane and there is no doubt that Matthew sustained hurricane-force winds as it cruised north up the eastern coastline. Super Storm Sandy on the other hand teetered somewhere in between a tropical storm and a hurricane and the hurricane deductibles were ultimately waived.

Hurricane deductibles are typically a percentage of what the structure is insured for and can range from 2-5%. Accordingly, a home insured for $200,000 with a hurricane deductible on the high end of the range, the policyholder would be responsible for the first $10,000. If it happened to be at the lower end as a 2% deductible, the policyholder would be responsible for the first $4,000. As a result, these high deductibles cause the insured to be reluctant to file a claim.

The problem this poses is that, with all due respect, most people are not qualified to determine the extent of the damage to their homes nor the cost associated with properly preparing those damages. This then creates a risk when the general public is not reaching out to seek the opinion of an expert concerning the damages simply because they are deterred by such high deductibles.

One solution for the policyholder who sustains damage but may be on the fence about filing a claim could be to reach out to a public adjuster or other claim professional and seek an opinion concerning the extent of damages and possible range of cost to make the repairs. The best thing about this approach is you can do this without filing a claim or taking time off from work just to be told no by the insurance adjuster.

By reaching out for help this way, you don’t lose any sleep at night worrying about the damages or the money for repairs. Best case scenario, you actually hire a public adjuster or claim professional and you sit back and watch from a bird’s eye view as they uncover your claim.

So, for all those people out there who sustained what they think is under deductible damages from Hurricane Matthew, do yourself a favor and reach out to a claim professional for some free advice for your claim so that you can rest easy at night.

— by Roy Young, PA