Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Post-Isaac Insurance Tips

The folks at the Insurance Information Institute sent us some helpful information to pass along to our readers. Since this is an area outside our own expertise, I turned to our on-call P&C guru Bill M for vetting. He gave it his seal of approval, so here ya go:

1. Is damage from hurricanes covered under my homeowners insurance policy?

Standard homeowners insurance policies cover damage to the structure of your home and to personal possessions from windstorms such as hurricanes, tropical storms and tornadoes. There is also coverage for storm damage to a garage, deck, gazebo, shed, swimming pool and other structures on your property.

2. Does my renters insurance cover damage from hurricanes?

A renters policy provides coverage for personal belongings damaged by a hurricane. Damage to the apartment’s structure, such as walls and floors, is covered under the insurance policy of the building owner.

3. Are flood losses covered under my homeowners or renters insurance policy?

Flood damage is generally not covered under standard homeowners and renters insurance policies. Flood coverage is available from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and from a few private insurers. Flood insurance covers losses resulting from heavy or prolonged rain, coastal storm surge and failure of levees or dams ... For more information about flood insurance, watch the I.I.I. video, Water and Flood Damage: What Is Covered and What Is Not.

4. I live in a condo/co-op. Am I covered for hurricane damage to my unit?

If you purchased a homeowners policy tailored to a condominium or a co-op, you are covered for damage to the interior space of your home as well as to your personal property. Some co-op/condo associations are only responsible for covering the bare essentials such as the walls, floor and ceiling ... Obtain a copy of the condo or co-op association’s insurance policy to understand what it covers and talk to your insurance professional to make sure there are no gaps in coverage.

5. Is flooding covered under a condo/co-op insurance policy?

Flood damage to the building is covered only if the condo/co-op association purchased a separate flood policy, either from the NFIP or through a private insurance company.

6. My car was flooded in the storm. Does my auto insurance cover that?

Flood damage to vehicles is covered if you have purchased comprehensive coverage, which is optional with a standard auto policy.

7. The power went out during the storm and food in my refrigerator and freezer was spoiled. Is that covered?

Some insurance policies include food-spoilage coverage, usually for a set amount that can range from $250 to $500 per refrigerator or freezer, but check with your insurance professional as each company is different.

8. If I make temporary repairs to my home, will I get reimbursed?

Most insurance policies have a provision to reimburse you for the expenses of reasonable and necessary repairs that protect against further damage—up to a specified dollar amount.

9. If a tree hits my house, am I covered?

If a tree hits an insured structure such as your house or garage you are covered for the damage the tree caused to the house and any contents within. There is also coverage for the cost of removing the tree, generally up to about $500 to $1,000, depending on the insurer and the type of policy purchased ... For more information, watch the I.I.I.’s video, Trees and Insurance: Tips on What Is and Is Not Covered.

10. My home is uninhabitable due to the hurricane. Does my policy cover temporary living expenses?

Most home and renters insurance policies cover what is known as Additional Living Expenses (ALE) if your home is unlivable because it was damaged or destroyed by an insured disaster such as a hurricane.

11. I evacuated due to the storm. Are my evacuation expenses covered?

It depends on what is stated in your insurance policy. Mandatory evacuation expenses may be covered under certain conditions. Typically, there has to be physical damage to the home before coverage is triggered.

12. I have a percentage deductible for hurricane damage. How do I know what my out-of-pocket costs are?

The declarations page of your insurance policy details the exact dollar amount of your hurricane deductible. Whether a hurricane deductible applies to a claim depends on the specific trigger, which varies by state and insurer and is usually linked to wind speeds.

13. As a homeowner, can I get a low-interest disaster loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA) or is that only for businesses?

The SBA provides low-interest disaster loans to homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes (including landlords) and private nonprofit organizations for disaster damages not fully covered by insurance or other compensation.

As always, check with your insurance professional for answers specific to your own situation.

Our gratitude to the III and to Bill M.
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