The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in its annual hurricane season forecast, has stated that it expects between six to nine hurricanes, with the forecast calling for three to five of those to be major hurricanes.
So, while your windows and shutters may be prepared and you've made sure that any trees and tall shrubs in your area are not hazards, are you ready otherwise? Here are five legal tips to help you prepare for hurricane season:
If you have tenants, double-check their lease. If you are a landlord, it may be useful to look over your tenant's lease and remind yourself what it says about damages. The security deposit clause is a good place to start; it will usually dictate what types of damage is covered and may help to determine whether or not a tenant is liable for not taking precautionary measures to avoid hurricane damage.
Look at your homeowner's policy. The same goes for your own home, especially if you are a homeowner. If you've purchased homeowner's (or renter's) insurance, look over the policy carefully to see what it says about damage resulting from natural disasters. While some policies may cover basic wind and rain damage, they may not carry over into more severe events like hurricane-level storms.
Look into purchasing hurricane or flood coverage. If your regular insurance policy doesn't explicitly cover it, then you may want to look into either purchasing hurricane or flood coverage. Otherwise, be prepared to roll the dice and file the proper claims with your current insurance policy.
Trespassers may be allowed. In general, trespassers are liable for damage they inflict upon the property onto which they trespass, in addition to punitive damages for the intentional entry without permission. However, in the case of an emergency, trespassers may legally retreat onto your property for safety, under the exception of a private necessity. But they must still pay for any damages incurred when they sought refuge on your property.
Have an insurance lawyer prepared, just in case. If you find that you are dealing with any damages from the storm that are not being properly dealt with by your insurance company, a lawyer can help. Experienced, local insurance attorneys who have dealt with similar issues before in their line of work can help you determine your next steps.