Hurricane Irma was a huge one and almost everyone incurred some kind of damage. Those with insurance were thinking ‘thank goodness’ we’re covered although there’s always some anxiety about what exactly you’re covered for. I remember feeling hugely relieved that I had a good solid homeowners policy even though my damage turned out to be minimal.
There are different insurances, so check yours when you take it out – most homeowners insurance in Florida have various banners under homeowners, including hurricane insurance, windstorm insurance, and flood damage insurance.
There’s this thing that Florida insurers include called ‘Hurricane deductible.’ The deductible amount is how much you have to pay before insurances will cover the damage. Hurricane deductibles are pretty complicated. They get triggered by losses caused by a hurricane and apply just once during hurricane season.
It’s vital to have Homeowner Insurance in Florida. Here are the reasons why but always check because they may not cover what you think. Insurance is tricky business. Here are the 11 reasons why you must have insurance and how to deal with it.
1. You’ve worked hard on your house.
In Florida, we work hard on our homes, on the building, the renovations, and the maintenance. Nobody wants to see all that work go down the drain. Hurricanes are dangerous things. It’s hard to see the damage and it’s hard to see your hard work obliterated – it’s important you can claim for damage and losses.
2. Post-hurricane predicaments.
Insurance doesn’t only cover damage from the hurricane, but also post-hurricane predicaments. There will be predicaments you have not even thought about, so be wise and be covered. Homeowner insurance in Florida is vital and you should also check what post predicaments you are covered for.
3. How does a hurricane deductible work?
I did say this could be complicated. Most insurance companies are obliged to offer hurricane deductible options of $500, 2 percent, 5 percent and 10 percent of the value of the property. The percentages are based on the total value of the property.
4. When should I file the insurance claim?
It is much better to do this early than late. Start the process even if you think your repairs may be minimal. They may not be as little as you think. And you can add to them. If a tree has struck your car, get that claim in, even if you don’t yet know about other damage or how bad the damage is.
Also, let your insurer know about the car, the fence or the pool – so at least when the assessor comes over and knows where to begin.
5. How do I know what damage goes where?
This is sometimes why you don’t get paid out what you think you should. Check with your insurance on the various policies so you know what you are covered for, in advance. If you have rising water from a storm or accumulating water, this is under flood damage.
A leaking roof could be under windstorm insurance. And water through a window may be homeowners insurance. Make sure you are covered for everything.
6. What happens if my car is hit by a falling tree?
First, say thank goodness you weren’t inside. And then, check your insurances although you should do this when taking out the policy too! Your car damage will usually be paid out by Auto Insurance and not Flood Insurance. (Make sure you have both)
7. List all structures under the dwelling section of your home
When you take out insurance, take your time. When you have to list the structures under the dwelling section, list them all.
If you have a gazebo that is damaged in the hurricane, this should come from homeowners insurance, as long as you have listed the gazebo. List all outdoor structures, including walls or fences.
8. I need to stay in a hotel for a while, will Insurance pay?
This depends entirely on the policy that you have taken out. Some companies will cover your living expenses while your home gets fixed up but – read the small print. For a start, check you have been paying for this kind of insurance. And then make sure you know how long you are able to relocate for and what is included. Champagne is generally not included!
9. Don’t assume you will not be paid out.
I have heard many people cry and say ‘Oh no I didn’t have insurance, I am not going to be paid out.’ Always check. Even if you don’t have flood insurance, maybe, just maybe, your homeowner’s insurance will pay out. There’s always a chance, therefore, get those claims in any way. And get them in early.
10. I was going on holiday but now I’ve lost all that money.
Maybe not. Just say you were going to Portugal but the hurricane is holding you back. You can’t get to the airport, the planes are not flying anyway, and you anyway need to be here to keep an eye on your house.
Hopefully, you took out travel insurance when you booked your holiday although not all travel insurances cover the disaster. Check and double check. And remember, your homeowner’s insurance may pay out!
11. You may just be underinsured.
It’s easy to be underinsured. Perhaps you were on a budget when you took out your insurance policies and wanted to skimp a little. Perhaps you forgot to list certain dwellings and the million dollar painting that you own. There are other options for you. FEMA offers grants or loans depending on how bad your damage is, and will help you bridge gaps between repairs and insurance payouts.
The bottom line is that insurance claims are horrible. But, be insured and if you need to claim, get your claims in early. Take notes, write down reference numbers and always get the names of the people you are dealing with. If you are having no luck, then get hold of a public adjuster but try and do this as a last resort.