2nd Quarter 2019

How to Protect Property and Finances from Hurricanes and Summer Storms

Hurricane season runs from June to November, so now is the time to take steps to protect your home and finances from weather-related perils.

Check your coverage. Make sure your homeowners insurance policy provides adequate coverage to rebuild your home and to help replace belongings in the event of storm damage. Also, inform your insurer of any major home improvements you’ve made — such as adding an addition or upgrading a kitchen — so that your policy coverage reflects recent materials and rebuilding costs.

Understand your deductible. Raising your deductible from $250 or $500 to $1,000 can reduce your premiums significantly and prevent you from filing small claims that could lead to a rate increase or policy cancellation. If you’re in a hurricane-prone area, you may already have a high deductible for windstorms — such as 2% to 5% of your insurance value (which would be $5,000 to $12,500 if your home’s insurance value is $250,000, for example). Consider setting aside enough money to cover that deductible in your emergency fund.

Explore flood insurance. Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding — as many people painfully discovered after Hurricane Harvey and other major storms. Flood insurance is available from the National Flood Insurance Program (www.floodsmart.gov) or from private flood insurance providers. Ask your homeowners insurance agent about flood insurance options in your area.

Protect your house. Trim trees, clean gutters, and fix leaks in your roof or windows to prevent the likelihood of damage during a storm. Find out if your state or insurer offers special discounts or programs to make storm-resistant home improvements. Florida, for example, offers mandated insurance discounts for many home improvements, such as storm-resistant roofing, storm shutters, and impact-resistant windows. Ask your insurer or find your state insurance department website at www.naic.org/map.

Document your possessions. Create a home inventory by using your smartphone to video every room in your home — open closets and drawers, too. Having a record of your home and possessions can help you get faster service when submitting a claim to your insurer after a disaster. Also, keep an emergency contact list handy, so it’s easy to reach your insurance company, financial institutions, employer, and key relatives if you’re evacuated because of a storm.

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