Hurricane season is here, and whether or not we are affected by a tropical cyclone, even every day thunderstorms can bring heavy winds and rain. Do you know what your Property Owners Insurance Policy covers? These are some questions you should ask before the storm strikes.
1. Are there different types of home policies?
Yes, there are many homeowners’ insurance programs offered by insurance companies. The most common policy is the HO3 policy because it provides coverage for normal loss activity, such as fire, theft and water damage.
2. Does is matter if I have a New home or an Old home?
Because of more modern construction techniques and improved safety features, newer homes often have a lower rate than older homes. If you do have an older home, your premium can be lowered by making renovations or improvements and bringing your home up to current building codes.
3. Are there other ways I can lower my premium?
Yes, just as with car or health insurance policies, the higher the deductible, the lower the premium. You can also talk with your insurance agents about any credits they might offer for home alarm systems, being smoke free, or retiree discounts.
4. Does it matter how my home is damaged?
Yes, most policies do not cover flood damage, and some may not cover natural disasters. Be sure to talk with your insurance agent about any special circumstances that you have, such as living in a flood zone, and cover them with an endorsement.
5. What is an Endorsement?
An insurance endorsement, sometimes called a Rider, is an addendum or extension that changes the scope of what the original policy covers, to add,delete, or exclude terms normally covered by the policy. This can include additional damage cause by flooding or natural disasters and can also include jewelry or antiques.
6. Are injuries that occur in my home covered?
Depending on the terms of your coverage, some medical bills may be covered. Discuss your liability coverage with your agent to find out what type of injuries and the amount of expenses your plan will cover.
7. How do I file a claim?
Your insurance company should have a claims agent available 24/7 to help you with this process. Ask your agent to review the process with you and send you any forms that may be needed ahead of the storm.
8. Will my payout be based on cash value or the cost of replacement?
If your home receives damage from the storm, you will only need to pay the out-of-pocket deductible if you have a replacement cost policy. If you have an actual cash policy, then the claim payout will account for depreciation. Most home repair or replacement is covered at replacement cost, whereas personal property such as clothing, furniture, and appliances are replaced at actual cash value.
9. What can I do now to prepare?
Create an inventory of your home and personal items now, including photographs of the interior and exterior of your home and personal belongings that are covered by your policy. Have a plan for storm prepping your home and know if you are in a flood zone or could be required to evacuate. Have an emergency kit including water, batteries, flashlights, radios, and non-perishable food. If you have pets, include them in your plans. Trim back trees and bushes that have branches that could damage your roof or blow off in a storm. If a storm does occur, follow local news sources to know where sandbags are being distributed and where your local evacuation shelters are located.
We all hope that hurricane season will pass up by with no or few storms, but it is important to be prepared in the event of an emergency.For more information about what to include in your emergency kit visit floridahealth.gov.