Hurricane Insurance – limiting the damage caused by inclement weather
Many home owners believe that hurricane damage is included in their insurance policy, and, unfortunately, this is not usually the case. It’s worth checking your policy to double check exactly what is covered; sometimes, even if hurricane damage is, flood damage won’t be, and sometimes it can be difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins. Some hurricane insurance policies will also cover debris removal, fire or vandalism resulting from a hurricane, repairs, and cash or replacement value of damaged property. If your home is damaged to the extent that it is completely unlivable, and you are forced to stay in a hotel, additional living expenses may also be provided.
Hurricane damaged will be assessed by an insurance adjuster, who will be specially trained to tell the difference between hurricane and flood damage. Qualifications can differ between insurance adjusters, though, and if you think a mistake has been made, it may be worth asking for an independent assessment.
If you do need to file a claim against your hurricane insurance, the first thing you should do is take photographs or videos of all the damage done. You should also have photographs and videos of your home as it was before the disaster in an easily accessible place; don’t store them on a computer, as this could be damaged. Call your insurance company immediately to inform them of the amount and severity of the damage. To this end, you should keep the contact details of your insurance company and insurance agent in a safe place, somewhere to which you will have instant access to in the case of a storm.
Another risk you may wish to consider is that of earthquakes. Earthquake insurance can be expensive and difficult to purchase, for the simple reason that an earthquake will usually damage a large number of homes, something that can quickly wipe out an insurance company’s entire resources. This became a huge problem in California, and since insurers who offer home insurance are forced to offer earthquake insurance as well, this almost meant that no insurance was offered in that area after the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. A change in this legislature means that earthquake insurance is currently offered in California, although only structural damage is covered.
In 2005 the laws governing Florida hurricane insurance were changed, to offer more comprehensive cover. A number of changes were made to the legislation, including a requirement to fill in a checklist detailing the exact cover offered, and a requirement for the insurer to pay the cost of repairs upfront rather than paying only the lower cash value for repairs. The amount insurers were required to pay for a home which needed to be rebuilt to more expensive updated building codes was also raised by 50%, and more funding was provided to pay for more staff to review rate decisions from Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation. A public hearing is now required for any rate hikes which would exceed 15%, and insurance companies are now required to explain precisely how a hurricane deductible could cost the policy holder, and disclose all discounts which may be available.
Hurricane travel insurance is also available as travel insurance policies which include inclement weather clauses. These basic policies allow travelers to file a claim if flights are cancelled when traveling to or from areas affected by hurricanes or other inclement weather, if they choose to leave early or cancel their trip because of inclement weather, or if they are evacuated from a certain area due to hurricanes or inclement weather. Unfortunately, if insurance was purchased after a hurricane was already named; it will not be covered under your travel insurance policy.