Tampa Bay companies prep for another hurricane season

For Robert Windschauer, the fight against storm and hurricane damage started with sinkholes. 

The founder of Daybreak, Windschauer graduated from the University of South Florida and was specializing in geophysics. He investigated sinkholes and saw, firsthand, the effect they had on properties – and their homeowners.

“That was my first exposure to how properties are damaged by natural events,” explained Windschauer. “And it just led to a natural progression, dealing with weather events.” 

Decades later, Windschauer is ready to launch Daybreak, on May 1. He said that the concept was born after Hurricane Ian, in September of 2022. At the time, Ian was the fourth strongest hurricane in Florida’s history. 

The idea behind Daybreak, Windschauer explained, is to give homeowners control over an unwieldy process during a destabilizing time. The concierge service seeks to provide that immediate action response that can often save up to hundreds of thousands in repairs, if left unattended for too long. 

“It (hurricanes) just overwhelms all aspects of response,” he said, referencing what, he said, was around 700,000 claims after Ian. “When that happens, people lose control over what happens to their property. They are reaching out to insurance companies and claims adjusters and restoration companies and mitigation companies and everybody’s so overwhelmed.” 

This is something Trevor Burgess, president and chief executive officer of Neptune Flood Insurance, knows well. 

“As hurricane season approaches, Neptune’s primary goal is to maximize the number of insured homeowners. Currently, only 16% of homes in Florida are covered by flood insurance yet, ideally, this figure should be 100%,” says Burgess. 

He explains that many homeowners mistakenly believe their standard homeowners insurance policy includes flood coverage. In the Tampa Bay region, with peninsulas on peninsulas, sometimes on peninsulas, that mistake could become a costly and burdensome one to make. For flood protection, a separate policy, either through a private insurer like Neptune or through the National Flood Insurance Program, is required. 

“Realistically, aside from elevating their homes, an often cost-prohibitive measure, there is little homeowners can do to prevent flood damage,” Burgess says. “With climate change intensifying storms and unusually warm Gulf waters, we are expecting a particularly severe hurricane season. Therefore, securing flood insurance is crucial. It ensures that, should a storm damage your property, you will have the financial resources necessary to rebuild.”

Preparation is the solid advice across the board. And insurance providers are no different. 

Bruce Lucas, founder and CEO of Slide Insurance, says he’s focused on amping up his resources so his team is prepared for whatever storms come our way. 

“Slide is committed to being there for its policyholders, during their time of need. This year we are buying $1.9 billion of reinsurance to cover hurricane losses and we have made arrangements to hire hundreds of additional catastrophe adjusters so we can settle claims and help our insureds,” says Lucas. 

Another way homeowners can prepare is to prep their homes, sometimes with some investment required, but in the long run could be worth every penny, should the worst case scenario occur. 

“Most policyholders do not realize that they will significantly reduce their premium if they have hurricane impact windows or hurricane shutters,” Lucas says. “Not only are the discounts significant, but it will significantly reduce hurricane damage at their property.” 

 Whether you’re in a flood zone, want to have that immediate stop gap protection or just want to beef up your home to withstand the storm, there are local vendors that know the landscape here to take your call and hold your hand through the process. 

And, now is the time to make those calls. ♦

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