By Lisa Brown, Managing Director, Altus Private Risk
Hurricane season is almost upon us. If you own property along the eastern seaboard, you know that this can mean potential damage to your home. Now is the time to revisit and familiarize yourself with your current insurance plan and coverage options before extreme weather conditions happen, so you can best protect your home and assets.
In hurricane-prone states, like Florida, Louisiana and Texas, your homeowners insurance may include windstorm coverage with a special deductible. Typically, these wind and hurricane deductibles are fairly high and different from your normal home deductible. If your house was built to withstand strong gusts, you might consider going without extra windstorm coverage, but in some cases, there is no option to change. Every circumstance is different, so your broker will be able to advise you on your specific coverage options.
If you’re in a coastal area, you may also want or be required to have a separate flood insurance policy. Flood insurance covers damage only from rising water, not damage that happens from rain or wind. So if your home is far from a body of water and not in a catastrophic flood zone, you may not need coverage for a flood. If you’re in a high-risk flood zone, however, your mortgage company will require you to purchase a flood insurance policy.
Being prepared in case of a hurricane is key to protecting yourself and your home—but that preparation often must start months before the season hits. Windstorm and flood coverages can’t be added to your policy between renewal periods, so you can’t wait for the threat of a storm to think about coverage. Instead, you’ll need to make a decision whether you want to risk damage to your property that will not be covered or pay for the peace of mind that comes with protecting your home and its contents ahead of time.
Whether you’re keeping the same coverage or adding a new policy, be sure to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of your policy before a storm happens so you can be well prepared for the aftermath. Know what your deductible is and keep a copy of your policy details with you in the case of evacuation. If you have a secondary home that’s at risk for damage, make sure the home’s caretaker can check on the property and prepare it ahead of time for any weather conditions that may arise.
After a storm hits, some carriers offer a complimentary service that allows their adjusters to go to your house immediately to cite damage and report back to you. This way you can get started on filing a claim right away, even if you’re unable to access your home. If you’re in a hurricane-prone area, it’s important to sign up for this service so your home can be quickly assessed.
You should contact your broker right away if you discover damage to your home due to extreme weather. We’re here to help you decipher your options and be your advocate through the claims process.