Florida is second only to California in the number of home foreclosures — more than 268,000 — in the first six months of 2009. It is also a primary windstorm target during the Atlantic hurricane season.
This convergence of nature and economic downturn creates a perfect storm of exposure for homeowners in Florida and other areas prone to hurricanes.
“In this environment, it’s not enough to make sure your home is secured,” said Scott Spencer, senior vice president, Chubb & Son, and worldwide appraisal manager for Chubb Personal Insurance. “Homeowners should look around their neighborhoods. Are there empty homes nearby? If so, what is the condition of these homes? Are the neighbors’ trees healthy and well-trimmed? Is there debris scattered around the property? In a hurricane, these loose items and dead limbs can become destructive projectiles.”
Even vacant homes without debris can create problems. If no one is responsible for shuttering these vacant homes, a powerful windstorm could tear them apart and spread debris throughout their neighborhoods, Spencer warned.
The 2009 hurricane season so far has produced few named storms, but Spencer said homeowners should not be lulled into complacency. If a hurricane or tropical storm approaches, he advised homeowners to notify lenders and town officials of concerns regarding foreclosed homes. Homeowners also should clear loose objects from around their own homes — bring indoors patio and lawn furniture, potted plants, bicycles and toys, and remove dead limbs from nearby trees. More tips to help protect homes from hurricanes are available at www.chubb.com/personal/html/helpful_tips_home_windstorm.html.
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