A large majority of Texas residents are not taking necessary steps to protect their property this hurricane season despite the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, according to a new poll conducted online by SurveyMonkey on behalf of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI).
The poll found 72 percent of residents in the state have not taken any precautions this year in advance of hurricane season. Nearly 15 percent reported that their property was damaged in last year’s hurricanes.
Texas is the second-most hurricane-prone state behind only Florida, where residents are far more prepared for storms. 64 percent of Floridians said they’ve taken precautions to prepare for hurricane season.
According to the final U.S. Geological Survey analysis of Hurricane Harvey, the storm dropped more than 60 inches of rain in some locations. That number shatters the previous continental United States record of 48 inches set in 1978’s Hurricane Amelia. Harvey is also the second-costliest U.S. hurricane in history, as it inflicted $125 billion in damage, second only to Hurricane Katrina’s inflation-adjusted $160 billion.
According to FEMA, 80 percent of all households affected by Harvey did not have flood coverage.
The poll found that just a quarter of Texans have flood insurance and more than 15 percent don’t know whether their existing insurance policy covers flood damage. Nearly 75 percent have not spoken to their insurance company about obtaining additional coverages such as flood insurance.
“These results are disappointing as we saw first-hand the devastation of Hurricane Harvey,” Joe Woods, vice president, state government relations for PCI, said in the trade group’s announcement. “As we enter what is traditionally the peak of hurricane season we encourage residents to proactively speak to their insurance agents about purchasing additional flood insurance coverage.”
Just 38 percent of residents are familiar with their local municipality, county, or state evacuation plan, with the same percentage saying they have developed an emergency plan and shared it with their household, the poll found. Sixty-three percent in Texas do not have an emergency bag, which includes necessities such as medication, non-perishable food, and water. Nearly 71 percent of all residents have not conducted a home inventory in the event that property and/or possessions are destroyed, damaged, or lost in a disaster.
More than a third (37 percent) of residents do not have readily available cash or savings to meet short term expenses that may arise following a natural disaster, according to PCI’s poll. Only 57 percent report that they have stored important financial papers and documents in a safe deposit box or online for easy access.
Contractor Fraud and Abuse
Following a severe weather event it is common for crooked contractors to try and take advantage of consumers needing repairs, according to PCI. These contractors make false promises, take full payment upfront and never finish the work or even create damage where none existed. The poll found that:
- 69 percent are at least somewhat familiar with the signs of contractor fraud and abuse
- 15 percent said they would pay upfront for the rebuilding or repair costs if it meant getting their property fixed more quickly and 20 percent aren’t sure if they would
- 12 percent of residents said they would accept an unsolicited offer from someone to make repairs to their home.
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