Hurricanes wreak havoc because they combine two of nature’s most damaging forces: wind and water.
Your best defense against hurricane damage is to have the proper home insurance coverage and know what to do to support your claim.
What to Do After a Hurricane Strikes
If a hurricane damages your home, take the following steps:
- Photograph and Document Damage: Document the damage thoroughly with photos, as it will make the insurance claims process much easier. In addition to photos, keep a running list of all damaged items.
- Make Emergency Repairs: Do only what’s necessary to prevent further damage, such as covering broken windows with plastic or roofs with tarps to keep rain out. Don’t make or commission permanent repairs until an insurance adjuster reviews the damage. Don’t clean up or throw out damaged items after the storm. Your insurance adjuster needs to see what happened firsthand to make you the best offer to settle your claim.
- Secure Home Inventory: All home insurance policyholders should compile a home inventory of their possessions before a storm strikes, and keep it in a safe place. A home inventory is a list that documents the contents of your home. It should include photos, detailed descriptions, and purchase receipts when possible. Having a home inventory will make the claims process much easier. If you don’t currently keep a home inventory, start one as soon as possible.
- File a Claim ASAP: Insurance companies sometimes work on a first-come, first-served basis. Therefore, file an insurance claim as soon as possible. When you contact your provider, let them know the extent of the damages and that you have an inventory of your possessions. An insurance adjuster will come to your property, assess the damage, and determine the size of your payout.
- Secure Safe Lodging: If your home is uninhabitable, find your family a safe place to stay while your home is repaired. The loss of use coverage in a standard homeowner insurance policy typically helps pay for your family’s lodging as long as the damage is part of a covered claim. Check your policy or ask your agent to make sure you have this coverage and to determine its monetary value and time limits.
Remember to be patient during the claims process. With the proper preparation, things will be back to normal soon.
Suffering damage or loss from a hurricane can be devastating, and recovery takes time. If you are prepared and plan in advance, repairing the damage will go much smoother.
Providers typically include a hurricane deductible in insurance policies for coastal homes. Most other insurance deductibles have a set dollar amount, but hurricane deductibles are set at a percentage of the home’s value.
For example, if a $300,000 house has a 5-percent deductible, the policyholder must contribute $15,000 out of pocket toward repairs or replacement before the policy begins paying. This applies only when a hurricane damages or destroys a home.
To see if your policy includes a hurricane deductible and how much it is, contact your insurance agent.
Think Ahead with Flood Insurance
When it comes to hurricane damage, water is usually the culprit. However, standard home insurance typically doesn’t cover flooding from rising water – including storm surge or flooded rivers and lakes.
For future storms, think ahead and purchase a separate flood insurance policy.
If you live in a flood-prone area and have a mortgage on your home, federal law may require you to carry flood insurance.
Most flood insurance policies require a 30-day waiting period, so don’t put off getting coverage until a storm is threatening or it will be too late!
Also, prepare a hurricane emergency kit so you can weather future storms and won’t be caught off guard.
- Flood Insurance for Your Home
- Home Insurance Policy Limits
- How to Prepare for a Hurricane
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