Hurricane Season – A Rude Awakening for Those Without Flood Insurance

We all remember Hurricane Irma (2017), which wreaked havoc on Florida, Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Carribeans. Irma resulted in almost 9 billion in damage! The recent onset of Hurricane Florence has left billions of dollars worth of damage to those in North Carolina. According to the Associated Press, only 35% of properties in flood zones, were insured in the state despite the warnings.  Luckily, with technological advancement in Meteorology, we’re able fore-warn people many days prior to help them prepare and evacuate. 

As you may already know, most homeowner insurance policies do not cover flooding.  Usually, a separate flood policy needs to be obtained either through a carrier or through the National Flood Insurance Program. Those without flood insurance for their properties will need disaster relief from FEMA. Type your address in the tool at DisasterAssistance.gov to find out about aid in your area, including money for living expenses and rebuilding. You may also qualify for a SBA Disaster Loan Assistance, a low-interest loan available for homeowners and renters to repair or replace damaged property. (Even though it’s offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration, you don’t need to be a business to qualify.)

Here are some insurance facts too know:

  1. Having homeowner insurance does not mean that everything on your property is covered. All homeowner’s insurance policies contain limitations and exclusions. You may need a separate policy for windstorm or flood if these coverages are not included in your homeowner’s policy.
  2. To report a claim, contact both your Agent as well as the insurance carrier. Most insurance companies have a toll-free claim number.
  3. You should always get a second opinion to verify the cause of loss and the cost to repair or replace the damage.
  4. Unless, you can prove your neighbor was negligent, if wind blows and items damage your property, don’t assume that your neighbor’s insurance will cover the damages. Typically, damage to your property is covered by your own homeowner’s insurance policy.
  5. Insurance companies must acknowledge your insurance claim within 14 days from the date the claim was reported and they must pay undisputed amounts of your claim within 90 days from the date of damage.
  6. If you have comprehensive coverage in your car policy, flooding/water damage will be covered for your vehicle.
  7. The state insurance department can help you with questions as you start to file your claim, and it can also step in if you’re having trouble contacting your insurer or getting your claim paid. Many insurance departments also set up special mediation programs to help resolve disputes between residents and their insurance companies after a major disaster. For more information, see the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ insurance department map for contact information in your state.

We want to reiterate the importance of flood insurance, especially if you’re located within the flood zone.  Flood policy premiums will vary however, one can expect to pay around $600 annually. Typically, there is a 30-day waiting period for flood insurance therefore, it is best not wait for the last minute. We urge you to give us a call if you would like to discuss your flood insurance options and review your current policies with your Agent.