What to Ask Your Insurance Agent About Hurricanes
Hurricane insurance is typically not a standalone policy, but rather, a combination of different policies, such as homeowner’s and flood insurance. In 2020, 27% of homeowners reported having flood insurance. However, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) estimates that this number is even lower, as homeowner’s versus flood insurance and what each one covers can be hard to fully understand.
Get the facts straight and know your homeowner’s policy front to back before peak hurricane season. Many of the questions below can also be asked regarding flood insurance.
Ask your insurance agent the following questions when it comes to hurricanes:
- Is the deductible for my policy a percentage or flat dollar amount?
If it’s a percentage, clarify with your agent how much and what exactly the deductible is a percentage of, such as a percentage of your home’s value or of the dwelling coverage.
If it’s a flat dollar amount, clarify with your agent the exact amount.
Regardless of which, ask if the percentage/amount will change at all this year or next.
- What is the current premium for my insurance policy?
Will this amount change at all this year or next?
- Are there discounts available for my policy, like for wind mitigation?
- Does my policy include some form of a hurricane or “named storm” deductible based on where I live?
- What is covered under my policy?
- Does my policy cover and/or include a deductible for damages as a result of any of the following: hurricane, wind, hail, water, flood, mold, storm surge, and sewer back-up?
For any damage that is NOT covered, ask your agent if there are options or plans that DO cover them.
For any damages that ARE covered, ask your agent how much is covered.
- How does my insurance company define the kind of event that triggers these deductibles to apply?
For example, in states like Connecticut, the legal trigger is when the National Weather Service (NWS) declares a hurricane with winds of at least seventy-four miles per hour.
- Does my policy include Dwelling Coverage or otherwise cover costs to repair or rebuild my home?
If so, how much is covered?
- Does my policy cover Additional Living Expenses (ALE) in the case my home is uninhabitable and I must live somewhere else?
If yes, how much? And are there options to purchase higher limits?
- Do I have special limits of insurance?
If yes, do they affect coverage of personal property of high value like collections, jewelry, or sports equipment? And if yes, how much? And is there a limit for payouts?
- Do you have a tool or can you otherwise help me estimate my home’s replacement value? I’d like to compare that value with the amount of coverage on my policy.
- What sort of documentation/records/receipts and/or proof of damages will I have to provide after the disaster?
If my home requires repairs, do I need to provide you with repair estimates or written bids from trusted contractors?
If yes, what needs to be included on those repair estimates? And is there a deadline for submitting them?
- If you live in a condo, ask your condo association what is and isn’t covered on the building policy.
- If you live on a rental property, ask your landlord what their policy covers.
If you have rental insurance, ask your insurance agent what damages it covers and how much.
If you don’t have rental insurance, talk to your insurance agent to determine if it’s the right choice for you.
- Do I live in a flood zone?
You can also determine this using flood maps by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
- Am I required to have flood insurance for my home based on when I live?
- Do I need to purchase separate flood insurance for my home?
- Do I have flood insurance?
If yes, ask your agent and what damages it covers and how much.
If no, talk to your agent to determine if it’s the right choice for you. Ask questions like: Is there a deadline or waiting period to apply for flood insurance? When’s the best time to apply? (The typical waiting period for flood insurance is thirty days.)
- Please tell me more about the FEMA National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and how it compares to your policies.
- Does my auto insurance include comprehensive coverage that covers hurricane-related damage done to my car, such as fallen trees or post-disaster thievery?
Don’t wait until AFTER the hurricane to get insurance – call your insurance agent TODAY.
Be as informed as possible and ask your agent questions if you don’t understand – they’re there to help you.
Keep an inventory of your belongings with photos and receipts – your insurance will need before and after pictures to determine your payout post-disaster.
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