- Insurance 101
- 7 Things to Know About Insurance During Hurricane Season
7 Things to Know About Insurance During Hurricane Season
The Atlantic hurricane season bodes dangerous and potentially costly for many homeowners living in states bordering the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean. Whipping hurricane winds tear off roofs and topple over trees, while heavy rains and storm surges test the limits of levees and fill bodies of water to the brink.
For homeowners, condo owners, landlords and renters living in these hurricane-prone states, especially the peninsula of Florida, having the proper insurance coverage in place can be the difference between going bankrupt by paying out of pocket for all the damages or only having to pay a deductible and letting insurance take care of the rest.
Even though hurricanes prove catastrophic year after year, many homeowners fail to properly protect their property and personal belongings against the dreaded perils of a hurricane. And many renters scoff at the idea of shelling out a measly $15 per month to protect their personal belongings.
But the fact of the matter is that everyone who can potentially be affected by a hurricane should purchase adequate hurricane insurance coverage in the form of home and flood coverage. And they should also know the following seven things about insurance, which can come in handy during hurricane season.
1. Insurance May Not Be Available Shortly Before a Hurricane Hit
Due to the nature of potential damages from an incoming hurricane, most insurance companies will not write any new policies within 48 hours of a hurricane hit. Although 48 hours isn’t a hard-and-fast rule to live by.
Many insurance companies mitigate their potential risk by not writing new insurance policies in all areas that a hurricane warning or watch has been issued in. And this doesn’t just mean home insurance policies. Flood insurance and auto insurance companies operate by the same rules.
Your best bet is to get home, auto and flood insurance well before hurricane season and maintain the coverage at all times. If you try to get coverage before a hurricane is set to hit your area, you could be stuck between a rock and a hard place — or hurricane damage and your wallet — paying for any damages out of your pocket.
2. Home Insurance Covers Hurricane Damage
Homeowners get the most extensive hurricane coverage, but they also typically have the most expensive properties and policies.
Almost everything on their property is covered in the event of a hurricane loss, including the home’s structure, other structures on the property, personal belongings and extra expenses if they’re forced to temporarily move out of their home due to hurricane damage.
Landlords’ properties and other structures on the property are covered for hurricane damage and, if the home faces extensive damages and the tenants are forced to move out, landlords may also get reimbursed for lost rent while the home is being repaired.
Renters have protection for their personal property in the event of hurricane damage, which is extremely important since many renters have no idea they own so many things.
When you calculate the cost of clothes, furniture, electronics and other items, many renters typically have $10,000 to $20,000 worth of personal belongings. When you consider renters insurance is typically $15 per month, getting it is a no-brainer.
Condo owners potentially face the largest uphill battle against hurricane damage. Since condo owners don’t own all of the property that they live in, there are many grey areas of condo hurricane coverage.
Yes, their personal belongings and nearly everything inside the four walls of their condo are covered by hurricane damage. But, if their building sustains substantial damage, they could be issued a special assessment to chip in for the damage.
Unfortunately, condo insurance doesn’t cover special assessments from hurricanes (or any special assessments for that matter). That’s why every condo owner should purchase loss assessment coverage, which helps to pay for any special assessments issued.
3. But You‘ll Have to Pay a Hurricane Deductible
Hold your horses. Before you start jumping for joy because your home insurance policy covers hurricane damage, you’ll need to get familiar with hurricane deductibles. Hurricane deductibles are only for homeowners (so everyone else can skip to No. 4).
They require a homeowner to pay a specific percentage of their dwelling coverage if they sustain hurricane damage to their property and need to file a hurricane claim. Insurance deductibles are typically set between 1% and 10% of the dwelling coverage.
So a homeowner with $200,000 in dwelling coverage and a 5% hurricane deductible will have to pay $10,000 toward the damage before home insurance will kick in and pick up the remaining amount up to the policy’s maximum.
Since hurricane deductibles were put in place in 2005, 19 states (Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia) and Washington D.C. have signed up to require them for homeowners.
4. Your Home Is Still Covered If You Evacuate
As long as you maintain home insurance and live in the property for the specified amount of time on your policy (even if it’s a vacation home and your insurance policy specifies you only live there part time), your home is still covered from hurricane damage.
If you choose or are forced to evacuate, your home is still covered. In fact, evacuating before a hurricane is a tremendous idea because you can replace your belongings and property, but you can’t replace your life.
However, you should always go back to the home, whether it’s a second home or main property, after the coast is clear and it’s safe to return. That way you can check for any damages, make any necessary repairs and file a hurricane home insurance claim if you need to.
5. You Can Score Big Discounts on Home Insurance for Wind Protection
The biggest discount you can receive is a wind mitigation discount, which inspects your roof’s features and your home’s windows, doors and water resistance to make sure they meet the proper standards of hurricane protection. Wind mitigation inspections aren’t required by your insurer, but they can only help decrease your home insurance premium.
6. Flooding From Hurricanes Isn’t Included in Home Insurance
Contrary to popular belief, coverage for flooding isn’t included in home insurance policies. Homeowners, renters, condo owners and landlords must purchase a separate flood insurance policy to ensure their property and belongings are properly protected in the event of flood damage.
Most flood damage from hurricanes won’t be covered, including rain that piles up on your property and seeps into your home’s foundation and nearby bodies of water that overflow and find a way into your home. But if a hurricane damages your roof and rain falls through the roof, flooding your home, that flood damage may be covered by your homeowners insurance policy.
7. Comprehensive Auto Insurance Covers Hurricane Damage to Your Vehicle
Comprehensive coverage protects your vehicle from damages from the outside world when it’s standing still. That means it covers a falling tree that was knocked onto your vehicle by hurricane winds. It protects your vehicle from looters and thieves if they steal it after a hurricane. And it covers much more.