Because hurricanes involve a variety of insurance considerations, it’s important to discuss the topic with your agent or broker well before storms arrive and to arrange the most appropriate coverage for your situation and needs.
This conversation will help you understand potential insurance nuances that can be triggered by a windstorm and/or flooding.
For example, depending on the state in which you live, your homeowner’s coverage may be subject to an insurance deductible that would typically be triggered when a hurricane is declared by the National Weather Service, or a Category 1 hurricane makes landfall.
Depending on your location and policy, a hurricane deductible may range between 1 and 5 percent. If your home is insured for $1,000,000 and you sustain a covered loss from a hurricane, with a 5% deductible you will be responsible for the first $50,000 of the loss.
You may be able to “buy down” a lower deductible in exchange for a higher premium, but the availability and appropriateness of that purchase for your situation is best decided with the advice of an insurance professional.
It’s also important to make sure your homeowner’s coverage truly reflects the value of your home. For example, if you’ve made improvements to your home, such as finishing your basement, your home’s value may have increased beyond your existing coverage limits — another good reason to check in with your agent and make any necessary improvements or updates to your policy.
Your insurance professional will also have advice about recommended hurricane mitigation standards and safety precautions for your area. You may wish to install hurricane-resistant shutters, add a battery back-up to your sump pump, or make other repairs or improvements.
Similarly, you should make sure your policy limit is high enough to address the cost of rebuilding your home to meet current building codes.
You should also prepare a home inventory to make it easier to document storm-related losses or damage if you need to file an insurance claim.
During your discussion of hurricane coverage, you should discuss the need an advisability of purchasing flood insurance for your home. Because homeowner’s policies don’t include coverage for damage caused by floods or storm surges, it’s important to secure additional insurance. Most homeowners purchase flood coverage through the National Flood Insurance Program, and your agent or broker can help arrange the protection.
A conversation with an agent or broker now can avoid potential confusion in the aftermath of a storm or flood.
The Insurance Information Institute offers more information about hurricane preparation and insurance issues.
Rick Albers is a technical risk consultant with Chubb’s Risk Consultant Group.