According to the latest forecast from researchers at Colorado State University, the U.S. coastline has an above-average chance of getting hit by at least one major hurricane this season. Researchers estimated the likelihood of at least one hurricane with a category of 3, 4 or 5 making landfall this season at 63%, above the average for the last century of 52%.
The official Atlantic hurricane season runs June 1st through November 30th. Once a storm is within range of land it is too late to change or add coverage. Therefore, it is imperative that homeowners review their insurance policies now.
Make sure your homeowners’ policy reflects your needs in the following areas related to hurricane coverage:
Hurricane Deductible – Some states have implemented separate deductibles for hurricanes based on a percentage of the home’s insured value. Note that wind damage caused by non-hurricane storms is subject to your policy’s general deductible not the hurricane deductible.
Flood Insurance – Flood damage is not covered under a standard homeowners’ policy, but flood insurance is essential in high risk areas.
Replacement Cost vs. Actual Cash Value – Replacement Cost policies cover the amount needed to replace or repair a home without a deduction for depreciation. These policies generally cost about 10 percent more, but they provide much more comprehensive coverage than Actual Cash Value policies.
Guaranteed or Extended Replacement Cost – Provides additional coverage if widespread damage inflates the cost of building materials and labor.
Inflation Guard – Automatically adjusts policy limits to reflect changes in construction costs so you do not have to increase your limits each year.
Building Code Upgrades – If your home is severely damaged, it will need to be rebuilt to comply with current building code standards that could add increased building costs. Law and ordinance coverage ensures these extra costs are covered.
Additional Living Expenses – Covers the costs of living elsewhere while your home is being rebuilt or repaired.
To protect your assets in the event of a hurricane, also:
- Inventory, photograph or video tape all household items. Keep receipts, inventory lists, copies of your insurance policy and insurance company contacts in a safe place that can be accessed in the event of a storm.
- To minimize losses, take steps to protect your property when a hurricane is imminent, such as covering your windows with shutters, siding or plywood.
- Keep materials such as plywood and plastic on hand in case you need to make temporary repairs after a storm. Keep receipts as repairs are made, as they may be reimbursable by your insurance company.
Be wary of rushing into a contract or placing a hefty deposit with a company for repairs. Unfortunately, fraudulent contractors often flock to natural disaster sites, so it is important to consult your insurance agent before hiring anyone.