Joaquin the Line Between Danger and Safety
Yes, the Atlantic hurricane season has been quiet. That seems to be changing with Hurricane Joaquin, which reached hurricane status Wednesday morning. At best, the storm will dump more rain on a pretty soggy Southeast. At worst? Forecasters don’t seem to be sure because of a number of atmospheric features that could influence Joaquin’s track.
Right now, forecasters are looking at potential landfall sites in the U.S. from the North Carolina coast to the Northeast. The storm could still miss the U.S. altogether, too.
But for now, let’s assume it does make landfall somewhere along the East Coast – bringing thunderstorms, rain, wind, and storm surges along the coast. Here are some points homeowners should consider.
Hurricanes and home insurance
Is hurricane damage covered by standard home insurance? Yes and no.
On the ‘yes’ side, wind damage typically is covered by a standard policy. So is hail damage. Lightning strikes usually could be covered as well. The same goes for fires caused by the storm.
Water? It depends. If winds tore the roof off your house and rain drenched the insides, you likely would be covered by standard home insurance. However, if the rain or storm surge caused flooding, any resulting damage WOULD NOT be covered by your homeowners policy. For that kind of protection, you need a separate flood policy.
So should you rush out and buy a flood policy now? Not for Joaquin – flood policies don’t go into effect for 30 days after they’re purchased. But you could protect yourself through the rest of hurricane season, which lasts through November.
See our Disaster Guide for more information on how to protect yourself from hurricanes, tornadoes, snowstorms, earthquakes, and other disasters.
Do you have a hurricane deductible?
One final point to consider about hurricanes and home insurance: Some states along the East and Gulf coasts have hurricane deductibles. That could affect your claim should you suffer storm damage.
- Deductible: The amount you agree to pay toward a claim before your home insurance provider helps, up to your policy limits. Say you have a $500 deductible and your roof suffers damage that will cost $2,000 to repair. You’d pay $500 and your provider would pay the rest.
- Hurricane deductible: These are set as a percentage of the value of your home, typically between 1% and 5%. If you own a house valued at $200,000 and have a hurricane deductible of 2%, you’d be on your own for the first $4,000 in damage caused by a hurricane.
What you can do now for Joaquin?
Find your policy and put it in a safe place in case you need to access it after the hurricane. Go over your evacuation plan with your family, putting special emphasis on where you will meet outside the house. Consider boarding up windows, and secure lawn furniture and grills inside a shed or garage.
If you have time, update your home inventory – a listing of your possessions, complete with photos, descriptions, and any receipts you may have. This can help greatly should you have to file a claim for covered losses incurred during the storm.
Keep yourself informed of Joaquin’s progress, and follow instructions issued by local authorities. Above all, stay safe.