If you live in a hurricane-prone state, you should know that homeowners insurance doesn’t always pay for all the damage these monster storms can wreak. Depending on what state you reside in and geographic factors, like coastline proximity or location within a flood zone, you may need additional coverage to protect your property from the wind and flooding that can harm your home.
There are two types of insurance products you might need in addition to your homeowners policy to protect you: windstorm and flood insurance. With hurricane season entering its peak, it’s important to know that any new coverage you add to your policy can take approximately 30 days to go into effect.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Atlantic 2020 season is expected to be above-normal with 13 to 19 named storms predicted. Two-thirds of homes in the US are under-insured for national disasters, but many don’t know it. For example, 80% of residents in the worst-hit areas of Hurricane Harvey in 2017 did not have flood insurance.
Let’s repeat: Having homeowners insurance does NOT mean it will cover the wind and flood damage that follows a hurricane. You may need separate policies to cover repairs or pay the cost of rebuilding your home.
In most states, standard policies cover damage from wind and hail, including hurricanes. However, some high-risk coastal states exclude windstorm coverage from homeowners insurance policies. If you live in a southern coastal community, insurers often require windstorm insurance that’s available as a rider on your current policy or as a separate policy. If the insurer doesn’t mandate the windstorm coverage, your mortgage lender may require some amount of protection. Even if your policy covers wind damage, it may only be partial coverage with a separate, significantly higher hurricane deductible than your standard deductible.
While some insurance companies no longer offer wind policies in beach areas, We Insure works with many insurers to provide this type of coverage. Additionally, a number of coastal states have beach and windstorm plans to offer coverage that’s pooled by private companies but administered by the government.
Windstorm insurance may cover damage from high winds not associated with a hurricane. And it could also cover rain damage if a wind or hail storm perforates the roof or walls of your home. Just be sure to contact your insurance agent to report any damage promptly, as there are often time limitations for filing a claim.
Floods are the most common and costly natural disaster in the U.S. If only one inch of water seeps into your home, it can cause $25,000 or more in damage. You may know that federal disaster aid provides limited assistance, but the aid is often in the form of a loan that you need to pay back. Homeowners insurance policies don’t cover floods, including water from a storm surge. Flood insurance is only available through an insurer or insurance agent participating in the National Flood Insurance Program, and We Insure partners with insurers that offer these policies.
If you own a home on property that’s in a flood zone or at high risk, your mortgage lender may require you to purchase flood insurance. That said, roughly 20% of claims come from properties not within a high-risk flood zone. If you live in a low elevation area with high exposure to storms, such as the state of Florida, flood insurance is a smart consideration even if it’s not required.
Flood insurance can cover the structure of your home and its foundation, plumbing and electrical systems, central air and heating systems, attached bookcases, cabinets, paneling, and a detached garage. It can also provide protection for personal belongings such as clothing, furniture, electronics, curtains, some portable appliances, freezers and the foods within them. Be sure to discuss the specific coverage of your policy with your agent.
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If you have any questions or concerns about your current hurricane coverage — or want to shop or purchase a new policy — it's best to speak to an insurance expert who is knowledgeable about insurance needs in your geographic area. Determining the right level of coverage on your own can be daunting, and We Insure wants you to rest easy during this hurricane season. Talk to a We Insure agent before the storm clouds appear on the horizon.