5 things about hurricanes you may not know

31 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

5 things about hurricanes you may not know.

Here you’ll find the critically important information you need to know to be prepared for the next storm and why the forecast for fewer storms might not be a good thing for South Florida. While Florida’s property insurance market has stabilized somewhat since eight storms battered the state in 2004 and 2005, as storms such as Hurricane Wilma caused billions in damages, the state still has some of the nation’s highest homeowners insurance rates.Hurricane season starts June 1, and although forecasters with the National Weather Service are calling for a relatively docile season, they warned people not to take that lightly.While there is no preventative measure to stop a hurricanes from reaching Florida, preparation is paramount and it requires going beyond buying generators and stocking up on batteries, bread and water.

— The death toll continues to rise as carbon monoxide poisoning claims more people in the wake of one of the most powerful natural acts in Southwest Florida history. A recent national report showed that Florida’s average homeowner premium of more than $2,000 a year is twice the national average. “There are people on fixed incomes that no longer can afford homeowners insurance,” Palm Beach County resident Daniel McMahon wrote to Gov. From a hurricane more than 10 times deadlier than Hurricane Katrina to a North Carolina hurricane ghost, here are five interesting things about these natural disasters you may not have known.

In March, Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, the state-backed insurer of last resort, shrank to less than 600,000 policies, well below its 1.5 million peak in 2005. Additionally, the State Board of Administration (SBA) enhanced the state’s financial resiliency when it authorized the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe (Cat) Fund to transfer up to $1 billion of potential catastrophic risks and losses to the global private market.

This coverage is another prudent step in protecting residents, businesses and nonprofits from new hurricane taxes in the event of catastrophic losses. A “FEMA City” of trailers emerged in Punta Gorda and aerial views of areas such as Cape Coral showed a sea of blue tarps covering rooftops damaged by powerful winds. Consumers are benefiting from this because the state’s “hurricane tax” — surcharges related to those previous storms — is disappearing from their insurance bills. Yet Florida continues to have the most expensive property insurance premiums in the nation, and questions remain about the strength of many private insurers headquartered in the state. “It’s good relative progress, but the progress isn’t fast enough,” said Michael Letcher, president of Home Insurance Buyers Guide LLC, a Lake Worth company that rates home insurers and helps consumers navigate the market.

The charge is added to all insurance bills, including auto insurance, if Citizens or the catastrophe fund lack sufficient money to pay off storm claims. In addition to fires, winds uproot weaker trees and open up the forest canopy for a greater diversity of plants and animals.” Gulf coast hurricanes have racked up tens of billions of dollars in damage in the past, according to a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Instead, the storm bucked to the east a bit and strengthened before slamming ashore at Cayo Costa State Park in northern Lee County. “We actually lost the roof,” Taylor said. “We had a lot of civilians that showed up at the last minute seeking shelter.

Reinsurance is the millions an insurer spends with an out-of-state or foreign company to provide the company financial backing in case of major claims. “I fully expect insurers to submit lower rate requests and pass along savings to consumers as market conditions strengthen and reinsurance rates go down,” McCarty said in a statement. Combined with nearly $4 billion in private reinsurance coverage, the surplus means that Citizens can now withstand the type of massive storm only expected every 100 years without running short of cash to pay claims. CBS4 Meteorologist John Gerard talked to the National Hurricane Center’s Senior Hurricane Specialist Michael Brennan about the changes that have taken place. As the cost to transfer the risk is barely higher than the cost of borrowing, with no obligation to pay anything back, the decision to transfer risk in lieu of additional bonding makes good economic sense. So when things got intense we had them in the bathroom and covered them with mattresses.” “You see the devastation, power lines are down, street signs are down,” Taylor said. “The first time we got on the road the firetrucks were responding with no windshields because they had been blown out.

As with any policy issue, there are opponents who believe inland Floridians should continue paying the bulk of post-storm taxes so the privileged are able to enjoy beachfront properties. The top 10 private home insurance companies in Florida, as measured by the total amount insured through policies that include hurricane coverage, increased their surplus by $510 million from the end of 2013 to the end of 2014.

Risk transfer opponents are often from ritzy coastal areas and favor the government insurance scheme that relies on others to pick up the tab for high-risk, high cost development. The only storm to bring hurricane force winds to Florida, the Mid-Atlantic and New England, Donna made landfall as a Category 4, ravaged nearly the entire state, re-emerged in the Atlantic Ocean and made several more landfalls. And these policy holders will continue to see increases in the future including the next round in January. “If you buy a coastal home, you should expect to pay an appropriate rate for exposure to that home,” Gilway said. “The hurricane risk, the wind risk and the flood risk clearly is significantly higher along the coast.” The reasons for Florida’s high rates have triggered endless argument among state lawmakers and others in the last two decades.

The Cat Fund has a cash balance due largely to an incredible 10 storm-free years, which has enabled managers to collect $3 billion in hurricane taxes from all policyholders since 2005. Michael Carlson, the head of a trade group that represents a number of large nationwide insurers with affiliates in Florida, questioned the state’s continued efforts to support the smaller Florida-based companies in a recent opinion piece.

Across southwest Louisiana, the surge stayed around 3 to 6 feet, but increased significantly west of Grand Isle, reaching 17 feet in parts of Cameron Parish. Everyone hopes for a slow 2015 hurricane season, but if storm hits, Florida is now better prepared than in 2014, due to smart policy decisions by its leaders. You’d be surprised how many people in South Florida simply don’t know the answer to that question so whether you’re a long time resident or hurricane season-first timer, you have to plan. The reality is they are asking us to pay 10 percent more every year from now on to avoid the chance to pay 2 percent more after a storm.” (TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries.

CBS4 Chief Meteorologist Craig Setzer visited the home of CBS4 News Anchor Rick Folbaum and his family who have never gone through a South Florida hurricane. This strategy can be costly, though, leading to much higher homeowners’ rates when reinsurance prices spike, as they often do after a storm makes landfall. While most of the rate filings submitted to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation over the last 18 months proposed either to lower rates or hold them steady, consumers have not noticed much of a difference. The Great Red Spot is a raging storm about two or three times the size of our planet, and has been there at least since Galileo first spotted the Solar System’s largest planet in 1610, according to NASA. The Great Hurricane of 1780 struck the Lesser Antilles, a chain of islands in the Caribbean, killing between 20,000 and 22,000 people in October of that year.

Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, is the most-affected area by hurricanes and tropical storms on the U.S. eastern seaboard, and sees a hurricane or tropical storm once every 1.36 years, according to hurricanecity.com. Hatteras is so vulnerable, in fact, that locals tell of a shadowy figure they say walks the cape’s beaches before a particularly nasty hurricane hits.

Known as the Gray Man of Hatteras, the ghost walks under the shadow of the local lighthouse, and is said to appear as the first winds of a hurricane hit the island. From your home to your pets to your precious heirlooms, it’s better to get things ready now than wait until it’s too late and a storm is taking aim at the area.

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