Insurance is one of those things that you can never know enough about - especially when it comes to protecting your home and preventing denied insurance claims. Check out five things you need to do to stay one step ahead of Mother Nature and protect your property during storm season.
1. Consider Water Back-up Coverage
With the summer storm season approaching make sure you have the right coverage should the power be interrupted or torrential rains that can cause water damage occur (think sump pump not working without power or not keeping up with the water flow.) While there are a handful of homeowner insurance policies that give you limited coverage for such situations, most will not provide this type of coverage unless you specifically purchase it. If you have a finished basement or have a considerable amount of personal possessions in your basement make sure you have the right coverage. Water that backs up from your sump pump can be expensive to clean up, especially when done properly by a restoration company to minimize further damage and prevent possible mold down the road.
2. Be Prepared for Power Outages
Power outages can wreak havoc and cause major disruptions to daily routines as well as cause potential damage. While your homeowners insurance will cover a lightning strike that damages things in your home, an off-premises power surge - which could happen when power is restored - may not be covered. Unplugging or turning off appliances such as microwaves, TVs, and computers during an outage can help prevent issues. To be prepared for power failures, you may want to consider purchasing a portable generator. When operating the portable generator, be sure to use properly rated extension cords, and don’t place them in your home or enclosed space like a garage. Don’t connect the generator directly to the home’s electrical system, as electricity can flow back into the power lines and serve as a liability.
3. Create a Home Inventory
Before damage or disaster strike, recognize the value in creating a home inventory. An inventory helps home owners determine what’s been lost or damaged and facilitates the claim filing process with your insurance company. Go through each room; write down and take pictures or videos of everything in the room, including valuable items such as electronics, jewelry and guns. Store your inventory in a secure place at another location such as a relative’s house or online. Annually review and update your inventory and don’t forget to update when you buy new items. Click here to access Digital Locker, a free and easy-to-use app that helps you create and store an inventory of your home’s items.
4. Understand Siding & Roofing Restoration Coverage
A typical homeowner policy allows for the replacement of siding and roofing damaged during a storm. However, most policies only provide coverage for the repair of the damaged area back to its original appearance. Unfortunately, in some instances the materials used to repair the damaged area do not match the original materials because the original materials are no longer available. Chances are you do not want a mismatched house! Consider adding a matching siding/roofing endorsement to your current homeowner policy. By adding the endorsement, this coverage will reimburse you for the cost of replacing the undamaged area up to a specified limit when a covered loss occurs if your current siding/roofing material is no longer available.
5. Check your Deductible and Coverage
Check your homeowner’s deductible. Over the past few years most insurance companies have gone to a higher wind & hail deductible; some now require you to pay a percentage of your home’s insurance value as the deductible. This means that while your policy shows a $500 deductible, you may have a much higher deductible for wind & hail claims. If you’re not sure, call and ask your agent to clarify how your coverage will work.
Likewise, keep in mind that if you have an older roof your policy may no longer have replacement cost coverage. Instead, you may be subject to ACV (actual cash value) coverage where a depreciation adjustment is made for the age of your roof. For example, if your roof is 15 years old and was a 30-year shingle, your insurance company could withhold 50% of the payment since the roof is halfway through its estimated life. To prevent being caught off guard, make sure you contact your agent to understand how your policy will work.
The key takeaway here is to realize that your homeowner insurance policy may cover damage resulting from a number of incidents, but likely also comes with a list of scenarios or exceptions that it won’t cover. Get informed about the specifics of your coverage - before disaster strikes - by reviewing your policy or call us to help.