Does Your Home Insurance Cover Hurricanes?
Florida has a renowned reputation for its gorgeous weather. However, this slice of paradise comes with a caveat: no other state in the US gets more hurricanes than Florida. Our long lazy summers are occasionally punctuated by hurricane watches and warnings popping up in the local news. As you can imagine, these can be stressful for Florida homeowners. What if you need to file an insurance claim for hurricane related damage – only to discover that the damage isn't covered by your policy? Here's how to find out if you’re protected.
What’s excluded by your policy?
Since every insurance policy is different, you should talk to your insurance company if you ever have concerns about what you are or are not covered for. But generally speaking, as long as a peril isn't listed as an exclusion by the policy, it’s usually covered by your homeowner’s insurance. Now, your policy may or may not mention “hurricane damage” per se. So, you’ll want to review your policy’s list of exclusions for anything related to “wind” or “windstorms,” and “water” or “flooding.”
Any losses due to flooding are not covered by most homeowner’s insurance policies. So chances are you'll need to purchase a separate flood insurance policy. And in a hurricane-prone state like Florida, flood insurance is a must. Keep in mind that flood insurance policies are not effective until 30 days after you make a payment – so it needs to be purchased well in advance of the next hurricane.
If certain types of wind damage are excluded by your policy, then you may want to explore a separate wind insurance policy. Since windstorms like hurricanes, tornadoes, and tropical storms all occur in Florida, it's usually a good idea to get this coverage as soon as you can.
Is the coverage you have enough?
If you've verified that your home is insured against hurricane damages like winds and floods, you'll also want to make sure that the coverage you're getting is actually sufficient.
For starters, verify that your policy limit will cover the costs needed to replace any destroyed property. Keep in mind that due to depreciation, the Actual Cash Value (ACV) of your items will always be less than the Replacement Costs for those same items. If you catalog your personal possessions by conducting a home inventory , you can then estimate what you paid for those items, what they're probably worth currently, and if the homeowner's insurance you have is enough to cover you in the event of a total loss. When estimating the value of the home itself, don't forget that the real estate value of a house is not the same as the cost to rebuild.
You may also want to take into consideration the need for Additional Living Expenses. If a hurricane makes your home unfit to live in, Additional Living Expenses coverage pays for reasonable additional living expenses you may incur while your home is being repaired. Additional Living Expenses coverage is generally equal to 20 percent of the insured value of the structure of your home, but higher coverage limit options are often available.
Stormy days are just part of life in Florida. But, if you take these steps to understand your current homeowner’s insurance and fill in the gaps by purchasing additional policies or coverage where necessary, you can get back to enjoying those Florida summers without worrying about the weather.
Download PTI’s 2020 Hurricane Preparedness Guide for more hurricane preparation tips.