Does your homeowners’ insurance cover hurricane damage or flooding?

Many homeowners learn the hard way that their homeowners’ insurance policy doesn’t cover property damaged by hurricanes or floods.

Hurricane season is upon us, but many homeowners do not check what their insurance policies cover until there is a storm on the horizon. Carl Carlson, CEO of Carlson Financial, shared some information you may need to know.

Hurricanes can cause damage in a number of ways. A standard homeowners policy does cover wind damage, hurricanes and hail.

However, in some states, carriers may charge a higher deductible than normal if the damage was from a hurricane. There may also be some protection for water damage if it was a result of wind damage, i.e. a tree hit your roof causing rain to get in. Most home policies do not cover flooding; you would have to add a separate flood insurance policy.

Some people choose to get flood insurance and others may be required to have it. What will flood insurance cover?

Flood insurance is what covers damage resulting from a storm surge, pooled water from heavy rain, or a swollen creek, river or lake. The government-backed National Flood Insurance Program will cover up to a maximum of $250,000 for property and $100,000 for contents, but there are many things they will not cover, so if more coverage is needed, you'd better shop for a supplemental flood policy from a private insurance company, Carlson said.

In order to be covered:

  • Water must come from outside your home, so pipes bursting, or toilet overflow doesn’t count.
  • It must be a large flood, covering over two acres or affecting at least one other property.
  • Swimming pools and landscaping are excluded.
  • Improvements and most contents in below-ground areas are not covered, such as a basement or garage.

Carlson said insurance companies will not allow homeowners to get new or additional home coverage once a tropical storm warning or hurricane watch has been issued. And unlike other types of insurance, flood insurance does not provide coverage on day one.

Most commonly there is a 30-day waiting period for making any claims. If you live in a high-risk area, you shouldn’t delay in purchasing it. In addition to damage from hurricanes, a flood insurance policy will also protect you from losses from other causes, such as heavy or prolonged rainstorms, coastal storm surges, snow melt, clogged storm drainage systems, levee dam failures and mudslides.

According to FEMA, almost 25% of all flood insurance claims come from areas with low-to-moderate flood risk. Additionally, it’s important to check on your insurance coverage on an annual basis as the cost of construction in your area may have gone up.

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