3 Things to Know After Hurricane Irma

Here on the Emerald Coast, we’ve been fortunate not to take a direct hit from any of the recent storms. But, like me, you probably know people or even have family and friends who lived in areas along Irma’s path and are dealing with the aftermath. Share this information with them, but also keep it in mind for the next storm that hits our area. 

File Those Hurricane Claims

While the Emerald Coast was mostly spared from any major damage this time, this is important for all homeowners affected by Irma and any other hurricane. Any amount of damage from a hurricane should have an insurance claim filed. Don’t avoid filing an insurance claim out of fear of increasing your premiums. While this may be true for other types of insurance claims, hurricanes are considered acts of God and don’t follow the same insurance rules, according to Security First Insurance founder and president Locke Burt.

The claim may not be enough to receive a pay-out for because of your deductible but you’ll have it on the record as potential damage. And if another hurricane hits, and you sustain more damage, part of your deductible has already been used for the year. Hurricane deductibles used to be required per hurricane event, but in 2004 that changed when we were hit with four in one year.

Rebuilding Will Take a While

Ask anyone who remembers Ivan, Opal, or Andrew – let alone Katrina and many other storms – rebuilding takes a while. The higher the devastation, the longer rebuilding lasts. With Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana and Irma here in Florida, resources are stretched thin. Contractors and builders were already doing great business before the storms with waiting lists for new projects. The rebuilding process takes that wait and amplifies it for everyone. The heaviest hit areas might not be completely rebuilt for several years.

Regardless of whether you sustain hurricane damage or need any other kind of work done on your home, always work with a licensed contractor. Check to make sure they’re licensed by the state of Florida by going to the Division of Business and Professional Regulation website. If they’re a local contractor, you can also find out if they’re a member of the local home builder’s association at the Building Industry Association website. Do your homework before you hire someone, or the rebuilding effort could take much longer than necessary.

IRS Postponing Deadlines for Affected Areas

Hurricane Irma hit just before an important IRS payment deadline – September 16. In response, the IRS has postponed some tax filing and tax payment deadlines for businesses and individuals. You have to be located in an area designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that qualifies for individual assistance to be eligible. Businesses and individuals who had already received extensions may or may not qualify – check with your tax professional to be sure.

The tax relief provided by the IRS is automatic if you’re located in a designated area. You don’t have to contact the IRS to take advantage of the help. Florida Realtors reports, “Taxpayers qualifying for relief who live outside the disaster area need to contact the IRS at 866-562-5227. This also includes workers assisting the relief activities who are affiliated with a recognized government or philanthropic organization.” So if you live on the Emerald Coast but have property or a business affected, or you’re one of thousands of volunteers, give that number a call to get the tax relief you deserve.

Before, during, and after hurricanes hit, there’s more information than most of us can handle or hear. A lot gets lost as we focus on the saved lives and lost homes. The information that can help individuals, families, and businesses might be missed by those who need it most. 

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