Safely Insured against Hurricanes
Homeowners who live in areas affected by hurricanes know that the damage incurred by such storms can be significant. Reviewing the current insurance coverage on your home and valuables may help ensure that you have appropriate coverage in place long before a storm hits. Protecting your property is a primary concern, especially since the cost of replacing items or repairing damage can be high. Most homeowners rely on their homeowners policies to insure their property against such losses.
A Look at Homeowners Insurance
Although homeowners insurance does generally cover wind damage, including that which arises from hurricanes, this is not the case in some coastal locations where wind damage insurance must be purchased separately from the state. In addition, separate policies must be purchased for flooding, which is not covered by the typical homeowners policy. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) offers flood insurance, which is especially important for those who live in coastal or storm-prone areas.
Be sure you understand any limitations in your homeowners policy relating to storm damage and flooding before insurance protection is needed. For instance, if hurricane winds destroy the side of your house and flooding ensues, then your homeowners policy would cover the losses because the damage occurred as a result of wind. However, if a hurricane causes nearby bodies of water to rise and flooding waters damage your home as a result, your homeowners policy will not provide coverage.
The deductibles of homeowners policies have changed in recent years because insurance companies have lost significant sums of money paying for billions of dollars of destruction caused by hurricanes. Many companies are now requiring a separate percentage wind deductible rather than a set deductible amount, such as $1,000. These percentages may range from 1% to 5% of the home’s insured value.
Besides insurance coverage, consider the following steps to protect yourself and prevent or minimize damage to your property during a severe storm:
- Map an escape route before it is needed.
- Designate a specific meeting place with family members in case of mandatory evacuation.
- Be sure to keep bottled water, canned food, medication, flashlights, and batteries on hand.
- Photograph or videotape the belongings inside your home for insurance purposes. Keep a copy of the pictures or video in a safe-deposit box, preferably at a location other than your home.
- Obtain a weather radio in case the power goes out so you can stay connected with safety information.
- Predetermine a means to connect with family members to they know you are safe.
- Determine a safe shelter for your animals if you are unable to take them with you.