Hurricanes, capable of causing billions of dollars in losses, are among the most catastrophic forms of weather, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). In 2012, Hurricane Sandy – the second costliest hurricane to hit the United States since 1900 – pummeled more than a dozen East Coast states with heavy rainfall and winds exceeding 115 mph. After the storm passed, the cost of insured losses due to property damage totaled $18.75 billion, the III reported.
Even if you don’t live directly on the coast, wind, rain and flood damage from hurricanes can extend beyond where they make landfall. Before a storm hits, make sure you have coverage to help protect your home, car, family and finances from hurricane-related losses.
Is Your Home Insurance Hurricane-Ready?
When selecting a homeowners insurance policy, make sure you have enough structural coverage to completely rebuild your home from the ground up if it is destroyed by a covered event. Keep in mind that “replacement cost” is the estimated amount of materials and construction costs to rebuild your home; it is not the real estate or “market” value of your home.
Contents coverage may help pay to replace personal belongings that get damaged or destroyed due to a covered peril. Many insurance providers set this coverage at 50 to 70 percent of the amount of your home’s structural coverage.
To determine where in that range your contents coverage should fall, create a detailed home inventory. Include photos and/or video footage of your belongings and receipts or other proof of value. Give a copy to your insurance provider to keep on file. This will help get the ball rolling on the claims process more quickly in the event of a disaster. It’s also a good idea to keep a digital copy, as well as a hard copy, stored in safekeeping.
Can Your Car Insurance Weather the Storm?
Your home and possessions aren’t the only investments you’ll need to protect during a hurricane. Falling trees and wayward debris can severely damage a car, possibly causing a total loss. Coverage for these events, along with damage caused by wind and hail, is generally included as part of the comprehensive coverage option. This coverage may or may not be included on standard auto policies, depending on your location and provider.
Don’t Turn a Blind Eye to Hurricane Coverage
Since homeowners coverage doesn’t include protection for damage from flooding, you may want to consider a separate flood insurance policy under the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program, especially if you live near the coast where flooding from a storm surge is a severe threat. It may take a flood insurance policy 30 days to take effect, so plan ahead.
There isn’t a guaranteed way to know exactly how severe a storm will be until it hits, and by that time it’ll be too late to increase your insurance coverage. It’s best not to be uninsured or underinsured when disaster strikes. If you’re at a loss about just how much home or auto insurance you may need in the event of a hurricane, contact an independent insurance agent for guidance so you can select the coverage you want and be prepared for the unexpected.