Is your home covered in the event that a hurricane causes damage? The answer to this isn’t straightforward because it all depends on what damage is being claimed and what protections are offered through your insurance policy. Below you will find some helpful advice on how to manage a hurricane damage insurance claim and maximize your settlement.
Is Hurricane Damage Covered by Homeowner’s Insurance Policies?
The answer to this question depends partly on your location.
In many states, damage caused by wind, including hurricanes, will be covered under regular homeowner’s insurance policies. However, if you live in an area that is a high-risk area for hurricanes, you might need to purchase separate and additional hurricane insurance to cover that damage. For example, people who live in Florida might not be directly covered through their standard homeowner’s insurance.
In addition, the answer to this question also depends on what type of damage occurred.
Wind damage is typically covered by standard homeowner’s insurance, but flood damage is typically not. You might be asking yourself, “don’t hurricanes cause both strong winds and floods possibly leading to damage from both though?” The answer is, of course, yes…so you can see why hurricane damage claims can get messy.
To put it plainly, in order to find out if you are properly covered or not, you must know:
- Your location
- The type of damage
- What caused the damage
- The type of insurance policy you have
Look over your homeowner’s insurance policy to find out whether or not you are covered for hurricane damage.
Hurricane Insurance? What’s That?
While most people have homeowner’s insurance, there is no single specific policy called “hurricane insurance” that covers hurricanes as a whole. To ensure adequate hurricane coverage, you might have to purchase both windstorm insurance and flood insurance. Again, it depends on where you live, but most hurricane-prone areas will require you to buy both types of insurance. With that said, there are other policies you may want to consider, in addition to windstorm and flood.
Some policies that cover hurricane damage are:
- Specific homeowner’s insurance
- Sewer backup insurance
- Windstorm insurance
- NFIP Flood Insurance and Excess Flood Insurance
Post-Hurricane Sewer Backup Damage
Wind and flooding are just two of many possible causes of damages from a hurricane. Another potential cause of damage is sewer backup; it goes without saying, this kind of damage can complicate hurricane damage insurance claims even further.
If the sewer backup is caused by a flood, then it may only be covered if you have purchased flood insurance. On the other hand, if the backup is caused by heavy rainfall damage, then it may be covered if you have previously purchased an additional sewer backup endorsement to your homeowner’s policy.
If you have not already done so, we suggest looking into the possibility of adding sewer backup and windstorm endorsements to your current home insurance policy.
What Is Considered Hurricane Damage?
We have named a few types of hurricane damage, such as wind and flood, but hurricanes are called natural disasters for a reason. Common types of hurricane damage include but are not limited to:
- Hurricane roof damage
- Storm surge damage
- Wind damage
- Sewer backup damage
- Flood damage
- Tornado damage
- Heavy rainfall damage
Your home can be damaged by many forces of nature; your home could be damaged by strong winds and also have damage from sewer back-up. Hurricanes can be relentless. It’s the job of your insurance company to determine the different types of damage. Homeowners should know that insurance companies have payout limits for each kind of damage incurred. Also, each type of damage is subject to a deductible. This often comes as an unpleasant surprise to already stressed out homeowners.
Hurricane Damage and Wind Deductibles
Adding a windstorm endorsement to your regular policy can make it more likely that your hurricane damage will be covered. 20 states have a special deductible for windstorms, Florida is one of them. Coverage limit amounts and exclusions will vary from state to state.
Don’t Wait to Buy Hurricane Insurance
If you live in a hurricane prone state, don’t put off getting coverage until you know a hurricane is coming. You won’t be able to get coverage in time if you do that! The majority of insurance companies have a 15 day waiting period before your new coverage will go into effect and protect you. Along with the 15 day period, insurance companies won’t write new policy coverage (or add endorsements related to hurricanes) until after a forecasted storm is no longer a threat to the area.
Flood insurance typically has a 30 day waiting period before your coverage will go into effect. It’s a good idea to be proactive when it comes to protecting your property with insurance.
The rules and laws vary from insurance companies and state to state but the majority don’t sell hurricane related damage insurance policies within 48 hours of a hurricane watch being issued. Some companies may allow you to purchase coverage but won’t allow the policy to become active until after the hurricane has passed. This means that any damage you may have incurred from that particular storm, won’t be covered by your new policy.
Claim Tips for Hurricane Insurance
1. Even properties in low risk zones can benefit: Statistics show that 25% of claims paid out by FEMA are for properties that are considered to be in low risk zones. Knowing this, even if you live in an area that isn’t considered high risk for hurricanes, in reality, it could benefit you financially to purchase hurricane damage protection if you live anywhere within a hurricane prone region.
2. Keep Your Hurricane Insurance Year Round: Don’t try to second guess hurricanes and storms. Keep your coverage in place year round so you won’t end up in a situation where the 15 day or 30 day waiting and exclusion periods could potentially leave you unprotected.
3. Keep Track of Your Expenses After a Hurricane: Besides covering the cost of repairing your home to its pre-damaged condition, your home insurance policy covers other expenses, as well. Home insurance also covers your living expenses; that includes food and lodging if your home is uninhabitable from the damage that happened. Keep your receipts and make notes of all additional expenses you incurred during that time. Your insurance company will reimburse you, if you can provide proof to them.
4. Hurricane Damage and Higher Deductibles: Hurricane insurance will have a higher deductible than a standard home insurance policy. This is because the damage caused by hurricanes can be catastrophic. You may have to pay anywhere from 2% – 5% of your coverage amount before you’re able to get a hurricane insurance payout.
5. Public Adjusters Can Be Helpful with Hurricane Insurance Claims: Public Adjusters work for you, the homeowner. They’re expert professionals who specialize in property insurance claims. A Public Adjuster will manage your claim process from beginning to end. They negotiate with your insurance company to make sure you don’t get taken advantage of. Hurricane insurance claims can be very complicated and the process can drag on; a PA can be instrumental in keeping the process moving forward smoothly, so that you get an honest and fair settlement in a timely manner.
Overview Advice on Hurricane Insurance Claims
In the U.S., approximately 7 million homes are at risk for hurricane storm surge damage. This doesn’t include the homes at risk for hurricane wind damage. It doesn’t matter if you live along the coast or hundreds of miles inland, hurricanes are unpredictable and your home could be at significant risk for hurricane damage. Millions of more homes can be added to that 7 million figure for damage from wind, storm, flooding and other hurricane related effects.
Use the guide above to make sure you’re able to get the hurricane coverage you need. Filing home insurance claims can be frustrating and confusing, consider hiring a RoofLeak.com Public Adjuster to shepherd the process for you. A Public Adjuster could be the positive difference you need, to get the hurricane damage compensation you deserve.