4 Things You Should Know About Storms and Your Homeowners Insurance

allstate_stormphoto

4 Things You Should Know About Storms and Your Homeowners Insurance

How your homeowners insurance coverages can help you rebuild after storm damage

Piles of mangled siding and shingles litter the once lively neighborhoods. You can't help but ask yourself, how will they ever recover?

This scene is not at all uncommon in the Lower Cape Fear as we have seen our share of storms over the years. And now that hurricane season is upon us here are four things you need to know about your home insurance when it comes to storm damage.

Your homeowners insurance may not cover water damage

Water damage can devastate a home, especially after a storm. But most homeowners insurance policies only cover certain types of water damage.

One of the major differences is how the water gets inside your house.

Water damage that originates inside your home or from a storm-created opening is typically covered by home insurance.

Examples may include:

  • An overflowing washing machine
  • A burst interior pipe
  • Rainwater that enters your home through openings storm winds create

This is helpful for most household accidents and some storms, but not in the event of flooding.

Water damage from outside your home is usually not covered by home insurance.

Examples may include:

  • Floodwater
  • A broken water main
  • Water that enters your home through manufactured openings

Unfortunately, these are the types of damages you will most likely have after a storm.

To cover these damages, you may need to add flood insurance to your home insurance policy. To add flood insurance to your home policy, talk to your agent.

Remember just because you don’t live in an area technically designated as a flood zone the potential for flooding still exists. So, it's a good idea to add flood insurance and it's usually very affordable. If you do live in a flood zone, you will want to make sure you have the coverage.

You can save money with a common loss deductible

If you experience a severe storm, chances are that more than your home will have damage.

What about your car?

How about your belongings boxed up in the basement?

Different insurance policies cover these items. In the past, this meant you paid multiple deductibles. Now, most insurance companies offer a common-loss deductible.

A common loss deductible reduces the amount you pay on your claim(s) if the damage arises from a single storm or disaster.

If somebody else's property damages your house during a storm, you are likely still responsible

What happens if your neighbor's tree falls onto your house and damages your roof during a severe storm? Or, what if your fence blows over and dents your neighbor's car during a period of high wind? Who is responsible?

The general rule for insurance is that your property is your responsibility. This usually includes trees that fall onto your property.

So, if a neighbor's tree damages your property during a storm you are responsible. Your home insurance policy will most likely cover your damages.

But things may change if the tree is dead or dying before the storm. In that situation, the owner of the tree may be responsible for your damages.

Your house must be "unfit to live in" to receive reimbursement for temporary relocation

After severe storm damage, your home may be unsafe to live in. If this is the case, your home is "unfit to live in."

"Unfit to live in" means you and your family cannot safely stay in the home.

Determining if your home is unsafe after a severe storm can be difficult. Most claims departments try to determine whether a home is fit to live in on a case-by-case basis.

For example, if your roof blows away in strong winds, your home may be unsafe. But, if your basement floods and needs time to dry, you may be able to safely stay in your home.

If your home is unfit to live in, some home insurance policies cover the cost of temporary relocation and other living expenses. This may include living expenses you incur during your home repairs or until you find a new house.

You may need to make the decision to temporarily leave your home before talking with your insurance company. If you do leave your home, make an honest assessment to determine if it's unfit to live in - especially if you expect your insurance company to pay for your expenses.

Examining your current insurance coverages for potential gaps is critical. Talk with your local insurance agent before disaster strikes to prepare your family.