Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria have shown us how nature can destroy in minutes what people have worked their whole lives to build. The devastating storms have also provided some lessons about how to make sure you property insurance will be there for you if you need it. Here’s a list of things you should look into now, before disaster strikes.
#1 Flood Insurance Coverage
A regular homeowner’s policy won’t cover flood damage, but Yolanda Robinson, a claims manager with Chubb Insurance, found people who are surprised to learn that.
“They don’t require flood insurance, but didn’t realize they should still probably carry that coverage,” Robinson said.
That’s why it’s important to read your declarations page.
“It’s not until something happens that you pull it out and you start reading it and you start to realize what’s covered,” she said.
#2 Know Your Deductible
Nancy Dominguez with the Florida Association of Public Adjusters says knowing your deducible can keep you from being surprised later on.
“It’s really important to read it, understand it and make sure you understand that deductibles represent out-of-pocket expenses,” Dominguez said.
If you have hurricane damage, your deductible may be higher than it would be for other damage. And instead of a flat rate, a hurricane deductible is usually a percentage of the value of the insurance.
“For example, if you have a claim for a $100,000 – you have $100,000 in damages and you insured your house for $500,000 and you got a 10% deductible, that means you would only be entitled to a $50,000 recovery,” Dominguez said.
#3 Make A Complete Inventory
Experts say people often leave money on the table because they don’t make a complete inventory.
“A lot of people think it’s just the big ticket items like the television and the couch that need to be accounted for,” Dominguez said. “But when you start adding up all the details of everything that you have in your home – glasses, appliances, your blender, clothing, your shoes, everything like that adds up – and when you start adding it up it can mean thousands of dollars.”
#4 Use Your Shutters
Even if you evacuate, not using your hurricane shutters can cost you.
“Your insurance company gives you a premium discount for having hurricane shutters,” Dominguez said. “If you don’t use them during a hurricane, your insurance coverage could come into question.”
#5 When In Doubt, File a Claim
Experts say if you’re in doubt if you have damage, you should consider filing a claim anyway.
“If you don’t file a claim and it’s later determined that you have damage to your roof or other part of your home, your insurance company can say you failed to report in a timely manner and can deny your claim,” Dominguez said.
#6 Filing A Claim Won’t Increase Your Premium
“If it’s an act of God , like a hurricane, there’s no reason a premium would increase,” Dominguez said.
And if you’re one of the lucky ones who didn’t have damage, Dominguez suggests meeting with your agent anyway, so you know what is covered and what isn’t before the next storm hits.