Give Your Home Insurance Policy a Tune-Up Before Hurricane Season

According to the National Weather Service’s National Hurricane Center, the Atlantic hurricane season began on June 1, and the Eastern Pacific season started even earlier on May 15. But even though the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts a near-normal Atlantic and Eastern Pacific hurricane season for 2012, a normal season still means several named storms that can strengthen into hurricanes. This is a good time to review your homeowners insurance policy to see if it’s hurricane-proof because you cannot change your policy once a windstorm is imminent. You can keep track of the NOAA’s updates at their website.If you are like most homeowners, you probably have never read your policy from beginning to end, so the first thing you should do is actually read your policy. This will help you avoid any surprises if and when you have storm damage, particularly wind and water damage.

Depending on where your house is located, you might have specialized coverage for hurricanes. Areas such as Florida are regularly subjected to windstorms and insurers have responded with specialized policies. Even so, you should keep in mind that most policies will exclude damage from flooding. Flood insurance must be procured separately from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). There is usually a 30-day waiting period after purchasing the policy before it provides any coverage, so don’t wait too long to sign up for flood insurance. Good information regarding flood insurance is available at FloodSmart.gov.

Also, when reviewing flood coverage, verify that it will cover your home and your personal possessions. Understand what your obligations are after a loss has occurred. This means that you must take all steps to protect your property from further damage after the storm, or your insurance will not cover it.

In addition, while your home insurance policy will likely cover damage from wind and rain, you should understand what kind of deductibles you have to shoulder in the event of a loss. Unlike regular deductibles that are stated as a specific dollar amount, windstorm deductibles are frequently a percentage of the loss, which can end up costing you much more than a regular claim deductible.

Something else to consider is additional living expenses coverage. If your home is uninhabitable after a windstorm, you will need to find somewhere else to live while repairs are being completed. Your home insurance policy can cover the expense of alternate living arrangements during this period. You should estimate how long you will likely be out of your home and verify that you have the right amount of insurance coverage on your policy.

With the start of the storm season and the requisite waiting periods to add or change insurance policy coverages, you should not waste any time in reviewing your policy.


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