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Hurricane Insurance: What It Is And When You Need It
Article 5 of 9 in Home Insurance and Disasters
Hurricane insurance is an important coverage to have if you are living in hurricane prone areas such as the east coast and the gulf region. Although the average home insurance policy covers wind storms, the ensuing water or flood damage that accompanies a hurricane is not covered. This is when hurricane insurance becomes important. If you live in an at-risk region, hurricane insurance is a critical part of your home coverage.
Hurricane Insurance Coverage
Most hurricane insurance policies will cover wind damage as well as the resulting water damage. This includes coverage for any fire, debris removal, and repairs to your home. It also provides replacement cost insurance for your personal property. Since many hurricane insurance policies may not cover additional living expenses, it is always important to ask if the policy being quoted to you will pay for living in a hotel or apartment in the event your home becomes inhabitable. Ideally, you would need to purchase enough coverage to replace your home in the event it is wiped out by the hurricane storm. However, in coastal regions this may be costly.
Make sure you thoroughly go over the what ifs of hurricane insurance coverage with your agent so that flood related damage caused by hurricane driven winds are covered. It may also be necessary to look into flood insurance coverage if you live in a flood-prone area. Flood insurance covers damage by waves, tides, overflowing rivers or lakes, and groundwater runoff, even if it is not storm related. If your hurricane insurance does not sufficiently cover flood damage in your area, you should consider adding the extra coverage.
There are some insurance companies that offer a home insurance rider that covers you for hurricane related damage. Call your insurance carrier or ask your agent if they provide hurricane home protection with a coverage add on. This rider will normally change the deductible you will incur from a flat amount to a percentage of your overall coverage limit for any hurricane related claims. However, for a small extra premium, this changes the coverage of your underlying homeowner's policy to extend to hurricane storm damage.
Saving Money on Your Hurricane Insurance
There are ways to curb the cost on your hurricane insurance:
- Raising the deductible can help reduce the premium. Make sure, however, it is still something that you can afford. Getting stuck with a $10,000 deductible might leave you with damage you can't repair.
- You can save by buying a home that is more hurricane-resistant. A brick home will withstand hurricane force winds and therefore costs less to insure than a home made of siding. Also, take steps to hurricane-proof your house - installing storm shutters and reinforced doors may give you a discount or at the very least save you from making a claim and thus saving you the deductible!
- A wind mitigation inspection can also help. Some insurance carriers will give discounts for having wind resistant construction features added to your home. To get this discount, the insurance company may request a windstorm mitigation inspection. Inspections are performed and certified by an independent licensed expert for your state. Contact your state department of insurance or your insurance company to find out the requirements for your state in order to qualify for this discount.
TIP: When you shop for hurricane insurance, always ask the companies that provide you with quotes about the discounts and cost saving opportunities they offer.
Preparing for a Hurricane
You can take steps to make your home safer in order to save on your home insurance by reducing the cost of a disaster. You should be extra diligent if you are a hurricane risk. Prepare your home for hurricane damage in advance by boarding up windows and protecting your valuables. Also, you can make any future claims easier by pulling together a list of all property inside the home with receipts and photographs. Always keep a copy in a water/fire proof box, or in a safe deposit box or even with a relative. Having a record of your property will allow you to prove to your insurance company property ownership and value.
TIP: Scan your photos and receipts and any other important documentation onto a CD and store the disk someplace safe! During a hurricane insurance claim you will need to provide proof of your losses. Keep track of your items before disaster strikes and make the claim process that much easier!
Finally, you should have a hurricane emergency kit for you and your family. This kit should contain a radio, flashlight, extra batteries, first-aid kit, food and water for at least three days, and a can opener. It should also include the numbers and contact information for your insurance company and agent. If you prepare well, you should be able to keep track of your information and minimize damages so you can recover quickly.
When you are ready to purchase home insurance, evaluate your hurricane risk and see if you need to add protection to your policy. Hurricane insurance is critical in some parts of the country, and you will need to purchase it if your location is a hot spot for big storms. Click here to start shopping with a free home insurance quote today!