Aug12

Check Your Homeowner’s Insurance Before Hurricane Season Hits

Florida couple standing outside their home that is not carrying enough homeowners insurance

We are now in hurricane season.  Normally the most severe storms come later in the season such as September and October.  That being said, it is wise to immediately check your coverage.  Coverages cannot be changed when a hurricane is on its way to Florida.  This is especially true of flood insurance.  There is a 30 day wait period.  Many have increased damage to the home as a result of significant rainwater.  The question is whether the damage was flood or wind/rain damage from the hurricane.  FLOOD INSURANCE IS NECESSARY TO MAKE SURE YOU ARE COMPLETELY COVERED.   It can be purchased through any agent or he/she can send you to an agent who can purchase it.  It is relatively inexpensive.   People are unpleasantly surprised when their insurance adjuster comes to the house and says, “We cover everything up to the flood line, but from the flood line down, it’s a different coverage”.  That would mean that it might cover things all the way up to halfway up the living room wall, but it won’t cover everything.

What Does Your Homeowner’s Policy Cover?

Many people erroneously believe that their homeowner’s insurance policy covers everything.  It does not.  You should:

  1. Contact your insurance agent and find out what is covered, especially if there have been improvements to the property;
  2. Request all deductibles;
  3. Discuss the flood insurance as mentioned above.
  4. Ask him/her whatever else needs to be covered. For example, do you have adequate UM coverage on your auto policy.  These are questions that should be presented to your agent.  One should get ahold of their agent now.  Find out what exactly is covered, what is not covered and if there is a deductible, when is it applicable.  The homeowner should also check to see what improvements have been made and whether the valuation of the house has gone up because that might require an adjustment of the insurance on the house.  That should be 80% of the house value.

While we are on the subject of coverages, one should also check to see whether there is an exclusion for pets.  If you do have a pet that could possibly cause harm, that is normally excluded under a homeowner’s policy.  One should check carefully and ask the agent whether you can purchase that kind of coverage.  Dog bite cases can be extremely severe, or they can be minimal.  However, it is essentially a strict liability, meaning that you are liable for what your animal might do.

The best way to prevent surprises is 1) get ahold of your agent, and 2) review the policy with him or her.  Following these simple instructions can save the homeowner a significant amount of grief.

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