The Mid-Atlantic region has seen some tough hurricane seasons over the past 5 years. While proper insurance coverage doesn’t normally seem to be a priority, it does become top-of-mind when severe storms are looming. If you have concerns about rain water, heavy winds, fallen trees, and lost power, “Am I covered?” is much easier to address before damage is done. As hurricane season approaches, keep these five things in mind:
1. Be Prepared. In the event of a catastrophic claim, how great would it be to have pre-disaster video/photographs of your home to share with your insurance claims adjuster? This is a relatively simple task to accomplish these days. Spending an hour walking around your home taking video inventory of your personal contents as well as video/photos of your home will save you a ton of time scrambling for receipts to show your adjuster.
2. Know Your Deductible. Most of you know that your home insurance policy has a deductible, usually $500 or $1000. What you may not be aware of is that a few companies’ policies carry a much larger “Hurricane Deductible” which is a percentage of your dwelling coverage. Example: Your dwelling coverage on your home insurance is $400,000 and you have a 2% Hurricane Deductible. This means that you’ll be paying for the first $8,000 worth of damage resulting from a hurricane. Brace yourself…some policies carry a 5% deductible ($20,000). Yikes.
3. Know that Flood is Not Covered. Most insurance policies exclude flood damage. In order for this to be covered, you need to purchase this coverage separately through your insurance agent. Coverage is available for your dwelling as well as contents of your home. IMPORTANT: Flood insurance typically carries a 30-day waiting period. So if you call your agent the day before the hurricane is arriving, you will likely be out of luck.
4. Take Preventative Measures. If you sustain wind damage and can safely prevent further damage from occurring through the use of tarps and covers, do it! Save receipts from any materials used…most insurance companies will reimburse you.
5. Your neighbor’s Tree IS Your Responsibility. It’s hard for some people to believe, but if your neighbor’s tree falls on your home, YOUR insurance would pay for the damage to your home, not theirs. If you suspect a neighbor’s tree is dying or threatening to come down, you need to notify them of this in writing (if you’re nervous about the formality of sending them a letter, blame it on me!) so that if the tree does fall down, you pay be able to hold them accountable.
BONUS #6: Don’t Forget About Your Car. Assuming you have Comprehensive coverage on your auto insurance policy, you should be covered if the next hurricane knocks a tree over on your car.