It’s hurricane season in Florida and homeowners are on edge as the national media sensationalizes every tropical storm and hurricane threat with the sirens of an apocalyptic warning. I am not implying that hurricane weather, preparations and evacuations are not stressful. However, given that Lake and Sumter counties are located within the state of Florida and away from coastlines, if you follow the instructions from your local emergency management personnel, you’ll be okay.
My concern is that the extreme focus and over-hyping of hurricanes in the Florida by the national media is causing homeowners to not protect themselves against more frequent and costly threats to their home. According to the Insurance Information Institute, from 2013-17, 62 percent of all homeowner claims had nothing to do with wind or hail claims. In addition, if hurricane claims were isolated from tornado claims and hail claims, the percentage drops even further. Interestingly, the rank of the percentage number of claims does not relate to the value of the claims, as you can see below:
- Wind and hail claims make up 38 percent, with an average amount of $10,182.
- Fire claims make up 35 percent, with an average amount of $68,322.
- Water damage and freeze claims make up 20 percent, with an average amount of $10,234.
- Non-theft property damage claims make up 4 percent, with an average amount of $5,823.
- Liability claims make up 2 percent, with an average amount of $26,085. These claims typically occur when the property owner is sued for medical and property damages, which occurred on their property.
- Theft claims make up 1 percent, with an average amount of $4,264.
For Florida homeowners, the real threat to their home and financial future is not a hurricane, but rather a fire or getting sued by someone else. Instead of obsessing over every tropical depression, which forms off the coast of Africa, Florida homeowners should walk and review their home for the real costly threats.
If you live in Lake or Sumter County, there is a better chance your home and way of life will be destroyed by a fire than a hurricane. Over the last year, have you spent more time worrying about preparing for a hurricane or protecting your home against a fire?
According to the National Fire Protection Association, the top five causes of a fire in the home are cooking, smoking, faulty electrical, heating and candles. Consider the number of senior citizens in the local area who may be suffering from some form of onset dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. A skillet left on a stove or a smoker improperly disposing of a cigarette are real threats to a home. Right now, many homeowners have electrical breakers malfunctioning or use cords with frayed wire. When it is cold, how many homeowners use space heaters because their central systems are broken? Nowadays, everyone uses candles, including immature teenagers who have no business lighting candles in their bedroom.
We forget about the real dangers around our home every day and seem to only focus on the hyped or social media driven ones.
Liability claims are ignored, and they can be horrendous. How many homeowners are daily assessing the “what ifs” as people walk on their property? Someone falling on your property or something in your home causing harm to someone can send a wave of television lawyers after your domicile’s insurance. Even worse, if you have a dog in your home and it bites someone, you will probably lose your homeowners insurance coverage and be on the hook for a lot of money.
This obsession with hurricanes as it relates to the home diminishes the more realistic threats. Right now, that frayed telephone charging cord is probably more of a threat to your home than any hurricane. Throw out and replace that frayed phone cord with the same breathless vigor and concern as if your home was just placed in a hurricane watch area — it’s just as important.
Don Magruder is the CEO of RoMac Building Supply. He is also the host of the Around the House TV show on LSTV and LakeSumterTV.com at 1 and 6:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; and at 7 a.m., Noon and 6 p.m. Saturday.