Finance, Household & Real Estate

What to Consider When Choosing a Hurricane Insurance Plan

If you live in a hurricane-prone area, shopping for hurricane insurance well before the storm approaches is wise. Several factors come into play when evaluating coverage options. Homeowners’ insurance policies often include separate deductibles for hurricane or windstorm damage, commonly 1% to 5% of the dwelling limit.

Wind Damage

Homeowners around the country usually prepare for a hurricane season insurance checklist because of the possible damage flooding or strong winds may cause. During hurricanes, winds can cause a wide variety of damage. Many people think of wind damage to the roof and felled trees as the main types of hurricane damage, but it can also include damage to plumbing or sewer systems and even impact on power lines. Homeowners should consider the possibility of such damage when choosing a hurricane insurance plan. Most standard homeowners insurance policies exclude flood and storm surges, so separate insurance policies are necessary for those living in flood-prone areas. There are several options for obtaining hurricane insurance, including large and traditional insurers.

Many of these companies offer coverage that includes a separate hurricane deductible, typically 1% to 5% of the property’s insured value. It is essential to compare the deductibles and policy details carefully to know the potential cost of this type of insurance. Some homeowners insurance policies also include additional living expense coverage that can help if a hurricane damages your home and makes it uninhabitable. This coverage can pay for food, hotel stays, and other expenses while your home is being repaired or rebuilt. It’s a good idea to check your policy for specifics and to consider increasing the coverage limits if needed. A knowledgeable insurance agent can help you determine the appropriate coverage for your needs.

Flood Damage

Hurricanes can cause serious flooding as well as other types of damage. Since a standard home insurance policy doesn’t cover flood damage, those who live in areas vulnerable to flooding may need separate flood coverage or a home and hurricane policy to protect their homes and possessions. A common question homeowners often have is whether a standard home insurance policy will cover wind and water damage from a hurricane. It depends on the policy’s wording, but most people will need a combination of home and hurricane insurance coverage to be fully protected. Many homeowners who purchase a home and hurricane policy will need to pay a special deductible for hurricanes that is higher than the standard home insurance deductible. This deductible can be anywhere from 1% to 5% of the property’s insured value, typically higher for high-risk coastal regions.

In addition, some hurricane insurance policies include a separate sewage overflow coverage for the cost of cleanup and repair when sewage backs up from flood waters during or after a hurricane. These policies are often sold through the National Flood Insurance Program, so if you want to buy a flood policy, check the requirements of the NFIP before making your purchase. 

Damage to the Roof

Your home’s roof can take a beating in a hurricane. The whipping winds can tear shingles off, cause structural damage to the roof, and even damage nearby structures such as sheds and free-standing garages. The good news is that wind damage to your roof is generally covered by homeowners insurance policies in hurricane-prone regions. However, flood damage is not. That’s because a homeowner’s policy won’t cover flooding, so it’s important to have separate flood insurance coverage in addition to your hurricane protection. If you have an old roof or unresolved maintenance issues, it may not be eligible for full reimbursement of your repair or replacement costs in the event of a hurricane. Your policy’s guidelines will explain how the insurer evaluates roof repair and replacement costs and what factors might affect your coverage.

One way to decrease the cost of your hurricane coverage is to install storm shutters, which will help protect your property from a wide range of perils. It also helps to have a qualified roofing contractor conduct a thorough roof inspection before and after each storm. And remember to ask about discounts for completing hurricane-mitigation improvements, such as installing new shingles with enhanced wind warranty coverage and trimming nearby trees that could get blown around in high winds.

Additional Living Expenses

Homeowners insurance typically covers the cost of a hotel and certain incremental expenses that occur when you can’t live in your house. This is called additional living expense (ALE) coverage. It’s a standard feature of most homeowners’ and renters’ policies. If a hurricane damages your property, you’ll want to know how your policy covers it. It’s essential to understand what deductibles are in place and how they affect the amount you receive in an insurance payout. For example, a hurricane-related claim with a standard $3,000 homeowners insurance deductible will require you to pay the first $3,000. Then, your policy’s replacement value or guaranteed replacement cost coverage kicks in to cover the remaining repair and rebuilding costs.

Some other important considerations are flood insurance and sewer backup. Homeowners’ insurance typically doesn’t cover flooding from hurricanes, so getting separate flood insurance is smart. Sewer backup is only sometimes covered by homeowners insurance, but you can usually add a sewer backup endorsement to your policy.