Hurricane Season Begins June 1: Are You Covered?
By Kelly McMurtrie
Last year, experts recorded 19 tropical storm systems in the Atlantic Ocean – the third highest number in history. Of those, nine developed into fully fledged hurricanes, and one mutated into Superstorm Sandy – the second most catastrophic storm on record, outranked only by Hurricane Katrina.
Millions of homeowners were caught unprepared and underinsured last year because they didn’t know that their standard homeowners insurance policies did not automatically provide complete coverage against hurricanes.
Here are the types of hurricane-related coverage you can typically count on from most standard policies:
- Strong winds: Property damage caused by flying debris, falling trees or other wind-related perils typically is covered.
- Hail: If hail damages your roof or other property, you could file a claim for the repairs.
- Loss of use: If your home is so severely damaged by a covered claim that you’re forced to evacuate for repairs, a standard policy could help you cover temporary living expenses.
- Water damage: If heavy rain comes in through a leaky roof or otherwise damages your home and belongings, a standard policy typically will offer some coverage.
However, while most standard home insurance policies do include coverage against water damage, rising water is usually excluded. That means homeowners who have only invested in a standard policy are vulnerable to one of the most damaging factors that often accompany tropical storms and hurricanes: floods.
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), average losses for homeowners after Hurricane Sandy flooded the East Coast last year topped $40,000. Compare that cost to an average annual premium of $500-$600 for flood insurance. Standard flood policies are available for homeowners as well as renters and typically provide replacement cost coverage for the structure of a home as well as actual cash value coverage for damaged possessions. All in all, the average homeowner pays less than $50 a month for peace of mind and better protection against hurricanes.
This year’s hurricane season begins June 1, and experts are already calling for a similarly busy season: Between now and Nov. 30, 16-18 tropical storms are predicted to develop in the Atlantic, including 8-9 fully fledged hurricanes, hurtling across the Atlantic at more than 74mph. The most worrisome prediction: At least three hurricanes are expected to make landfall somewhere in the U.S. this year.
Don’t wait until Superstorm Sandy II is predicted to land in your front yard. Most standard flood policies won’t actually take effect until 30 days after the date of purchase. If you’re not covered by a valid flood insurance policy when a disaster strikes your home, you’re taking a big risk that you’ll face devastating damages alone. Work with a licensed agent before the storms blow in to make sure you’re prepared with the coverage that’s right for you.