Sunday, Aug 18, 2019
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Home appraisals and hurricanes

Batten down, storm coming!

During the last major hurricane (Irma), many of us had our homes insured at the absolute last minute despite one of the most frightening hurricanes in modern times threatening our islands.

Only by the grace of God did Irma shift her course and miss us, despite our collective certainty that our time had come and luck had run out.

Nassau and the northern islands were spared while the hurricane completely devastated Florida, generating billions of dollars’ worth of damage. Our southernmost islands suffered an extreme impact, resulting in catastrophic damage to property. Fortunately there were no serious injuries or loss of life.

The effect of previous major hurricanes and the threat of Irma has truly reiterated the message to the people of The Bahamas that these acts of God are by no means to be taken lightly. As a people, it is both our civic and personal duty to heed these warnings and get rid of the laissez-faire approach we often take with regard to protecting our personal assets and property. For most Bahamians our home is absolutely our most valuable asset. Although we are blessed to live in paradise, our islands will eternally be a firm fixture in the hurricane system’s warpath. Some of us know all too well the despair that must be endured in the aftermath of a catastrophic storm with homes which were not properly insured. To be insured is the primary objective, however the most important aspect of insurance is to ensure you are sufficiently covered.

As a homeowner it is truly in your best interest to avoid the risk of being undervalued on account of your insurance provider only paying you for what your home is worth, not what you think it’s worth or what you had it covered for.

Most of us believe that the more we have insured our homes for, the more the insurance premium would cost; from my own experience when disaster strikes it is imperative that your assets are adequately covered.

The most proactive option in ensuring your insurance is to get your home appraised by a licensed Bahamas Real Estate Association (BREA) appraiser on a regular basis, to determine your home’s value to advise your insurance agent, so you may agree on what the insurable value is on your home in the event you have a major claim.

In the event there is a claim, you can rest assured knowing that your due diligence has paid off, as you have a certified appraisal which indicates the value of your home to provide seamlessly to your preferred insurance provider.

Appraisals should be updated regularly and should be performed by a licensed BREA appraiser. During this period if any major renovations are undertaken such as expansions, kitchen upgrades, etc. these upgrades will absolutely impact the value of your home.

To avoid unexpected losses in the case of fires or natural disasters, it is best to make sure you increase your insurance policy to ensure the actual current value of your property is covered.

In closing, much has been said of the immense tribulations our neighbors in Dominica endured in the wake of Maria’s trail of devastation. We all live in a region where we are beset by hurricanes for several months each year. It appears that these hurricanes are increasing in size and frequency, so one has to wonder when would our luck run out. I would like to thank our prime minister for his excellent demonstration of camaraderie to our sisters and brothers in Dominica in their time of need, and providing an incredible exemplar of our virtuous Bahamian spirit.

• William Wong is a two-term president of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation, and two-term president of the Bahamas Real Estate Association. William Wong is a partner at Darville-Wong Realty. E-mail: williamuwong@gmail.com.

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