Is your Homeowners Insurance Policy ready for Hurricane Season?

June 1 marks the start of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. We’ll be getting stocked up for a few possibly eventful months until the season ends Nov. 30.

You can be prepared by knowing the pertinent details on your homeowner’s policy and by making sure you have the proper coverage.

Hurricane coverage starts when the wind speed reaches 75 mph or higher.

First, if you have a screen enclosure, make sure you get the proper endorsement to include your patio screen enclosure. Coverage for screen enclosures is not included in the base policy. Many carriers will allow you to add the screen enclosure endorsement onto the policy. Other carriers do not offer the endorsement at all. Unfortunately, most people assume it is covered under the basic hurricane coverage.

The cost in a non-hurricane time of year to install a screen enclosure may be $10,000 to $15,000. After a hurricane, contractors cite an increased cost of materials and labor to explain why the cost often doubles to $20,000 to $30,000.

Second, it is important to know your hurricane deductible. Most policies have a 2% building coverage, which some people confuse with 2% of the damage to the home.

For example, if a home is covered at $300,000, then it would have a $6,000 deductible. There are a few insurance companies that offer a fixed deductible such as $500, $1,000, or $2,500.This will increase the premium, and in some cases surprisingly not that much.

If a customer wants to pay a lower annual premium, they may have a higher deductible versus someone with a lower deductible will have a higher premium.

Another common misunderstanding is that your hurricane coverage automatically includes flood coverage. One of the biggest causes of damage during a hurricane is flooding. If you do decide to get flood insurance, make sure you ask your agent questions on the specifics.

Homeowners insurance policies do not cover any damage from a flood. If you want flood insurance, you can purchase it at any time. However, flood insurance has a 30-day waiting period, so if you decide to purchase it when a hurricane is on the way, it will not be in force for that hurricane.

A few options are available to purchase flood insurance through FEMA or private carriers. Private carriers often offer flood insurance at lower premiums and with better coverage, depending on the location of the home.

Many people do not buy flood insurance because they are told by their lender they are not in a flood zone. That is a false statement. Every property in Florida is in a flood zone. Some are high risk, medium risk or low risk. For the ones in a low risk zone, the lenders will not require you buy flood insurance. The cost for the low risk zones can be as low as $340 to $500 per year.

Note that the definition of a flood is rising water that damages more than one home, or more than one acre. In the past, Hurricane Harvey in Houston, and Hurricane Florence in North Carolina caused major flooding over 30 miles inland from the coast. More than 70% of the flood victims were in low risk zones and, when interviewed, they stated they were told by their lender that they were not in a flood zone and didn’t have to buy flood insurance.

In conclusion, it is crucial to know the answers to the following questions in case you need to file an insurance claim as a result of damage from a hurricane or flood:

  • Who is your homeowner’s insurance policy with?
  • What is the homeowner’s insurance company phone number and website?

Your local insurance agency may be closed or damaged, so make sure you have these documents in a safe place with the information to your policy. Most insurance carriers have the ability to file the claim online from a phone, computer or tablet, so that you can avoid lengthy hold times.

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