Hurricane Irma Update

There is no part of Florida that has escaped the damage from Hurricane Irma and the demanding task of recovery and reconstruction that will take many months to come.

For Canadians, particularly snowbirds that have property in Florida, the full impact may not yet be known. Communities remain isolated as power remains sporadic and transportation continues to be hampered by lack of fuel.

Fort Lauderdale, a heavily commercial urban area, has few traffic lights in operation, supermarkets are powered by generators with shelves that are bare of staples, and ice (a crucially important product when power and refrigeration is out) is almost impossible to get.

It is common to see drivers sitting in their cars idling while recharging their cellphones. Despite politicians’ promises that fuel is on its way, none appears to be showing up at a majority of service stations in this area.

If you have property in any of the affected areas, there is little you can do but stay in close touch with friends or neighbours who are permanent residents—they can give you some reports on your home, condo, manufactured home, or mobile home.

Be proactive about contacting your insurance company and establish your needs and property details. Do not count on your Florida-based insurance agency to contact you. They will be overwhelmed for some time.

Travel Canada has posted an “Avoid all Travel” or “Avoid all Unnecessary Travel” warning to many counties in the state. Be mindful of warnings, and for those familiar with local media outlets—stay tuned to damage reports in areas that concern you. Check in regularly with Travel Canada.

If you were planning a vacation trip to Florida this month, contact your travel insurance advisor and determine your status. Hopefully you will have purchased trip cancellation/interruption benefits. Make sure you understand the terms and conditions of your policy and submit claims if appropriate.

Among the most highly damaged areas are the Florida Keys—some of which were totally overrun by high tides and punishing winds.  Some hotels and resorts have been obliterated or will need to be completely rebuilt. If you have made reservations anywhere in the Keys for the coming winter, take steps about securing your deposits—and certainly reassess your plans.

We hope most vacation centres on the mainland will be online for the winter season, certainly the theme parks in central Florida—but do your due diligence.

 

Do you have questions about your trip cancellation or trip interruption insurance? Contact a customer service expert today.

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