How To Be Prepared For a Busy Hurricane Season in 2020

Here we are, once again, in hurricane season. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has predicted an above-normal hurricane season is most likely. So far, 2020 has not looked good with COVID, quarantines, unemployment, and civil unrest. Adding a major hurricane to the list of things to worry about this year is not what anyone wants. In 2019, we saw two category 5 storms on record. In 2017, it was a record-breaking year of devastation.

The news is not all unfortunate though. Alliance is helping you out this year to be prepared for what is coming. We have created our Hurricane Preparedness Guide. Inside, you will find a checklist of items that will help you easily knock this off your chore list.

Download the Hurricane Checklist

Aside from this, there are some other things that you should check out to protect your home from wind, rain, and flood damage. Answering the questions below will ensure that if something happens, there will be no surprises or unknowns.

Check Your Policy Limits

The first thing to do is determine whether you have enough coverage to completely rebuild your home after a hurricane. When assessing this issue, remember that the cost to rebuild is likely to be more than the real estate value of the home. If you believe that your current coverage will not be enough, consider these additions:

  • Extended Replacement Cost Policy. This pays an additional 20% or more above the policy limits.
  • Inflation Guard automatically adjusts the coverage limits, by a small percentage at renewal, to reflect changes in construction costs.
  • Ordinance or Law Coverage will pay a percentage of your dwelling coverage for rebuilding to new building codes, should your community adopt stricter codes.

Review the Hurricane/Windstorm Damage Deductibles

Most Florida homeowner’s policies include a hurricane or windstorm deductible. Unlike the standard “dollar deductible” on auto and home policies, a hurricane or windstorm deductible is usually a percentage, such as 1 to 5%, of the insured value of the structure of your home.

There is an important difference between a hurricane deductible and windstorm deductible. A hurricane deductible will only be triggered if the property damage occurred as a direct result of a hurricane. However, a windstorm deductible applies to any type of wind damage, including tropical storms. If you have a hurricane only policy, you will not have the protection for other wind events that are likely to occur during the hurricane season.

Consider Flood Insurance and Sewer Back-up Coverage

Even if you have hurricane insurance, it probably does not address the flood damage to your home or property that is likely to occur because of the storm. Since most people believe that their hurricane insurance includes flood damage, they are underinsured. To truly protect your home in the event of a hurricane, you must carry a separate flood insurance policy.

Even if you believe you are outside of the “flood zone”, we want you to know that the entire state of Florida is considered a flood zone. They are broken up into high risk flood zones and low risk zones. The flood zone data can be out of date, which many homeowners learned only after their home flooded as a result of a hurricane or tropical storm. It is better to be prepared as 1/3 of flood claims were from low-risk zones.

In addition to flood insurance, you might consider purchasing sewer back-up coverage. Damage can occur if the sewer system is overwhelmed by major downpours or flooding and it is not covered by standard homeowners policies or hurricane insurance.

Review Additional Living Expenses Coverage

After a hurricane or tropical storm, many houses are so damaged they become uninhabitable. At this point, the Additional Living Expenses (ALE) coverage of your homeowners policy is triggered, but will it be enough?  ALE covers the extra costs involved in living away from home, including hotel bills, restaurant meals, and other expenses that are incurred while your home is being repaired or rebuilt.

While certain levels of ALE coverage are standard in most homeowners policies, review the limits to determine if you think it is adequate for your needs.

  • Typically, ALE coverage is equal to 20% of the amount of insurance coverage that you have on the structure of your house, but most insurers offer higher coverage limits options.
  • ALE reimbursement is often for a specific time period and you should decide if you are comfortable with this limit or want to purchase an extension option.

Know Your Worth

Every homeowner should have a home inventory detailing the list of the belongings and their estimated value. This includes furniture, clothes, appliances, electronics, artwork, jewelry and more. You will need this information if you need to file a claim because most homeowners policies include coverage for personal possessions.

Take the time to review the type of personal property insurance you have and decide if it is the right one for you. These insurance types are:

  • Replacement Cost Coverage, which pays what it would cost to replace your personal possessions at their current value.
  • Actual Cash Value Coverage, which pays to replace your personal possessions only at their depreciated value.

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