Severe Weather Insurance Policy Checkup
There’s nothing as disappointing as finding out that your homeowners’ or business insurance policy doesn’t cover certain damages incurred from an accident or storm. In this age of hurricanes, tornadoes, thunderstorms, flooding, sump pump failures, and other unexpected natural disasters, the last thing you want is to pay for such damages out of pocket.
And, when you throw winter weather in the mix, with early season ice storms that cause trees to fall with leaves on them, blizzards, and ice dams, there’s even more risk of acquiring costly damage to your home or business property.
Not only are you contending with an increase in storm frequency, but the price of lumber and other construction materials has risen, making home and business repairs and replacements more costly. These repairs and replacements are not only expensive but often come at a time when you least expect them.
While having homeowners insurance or business insurance gives you the much-needed peace of mind knowing that your home or business is protected from such damages, you may be disappointed if your policy doesn’t provide adequate coverage relating to severe weather. This is because some insurance policies don’t cover certain damages, and you may not find out about this until it’s too late.
For this reason, it’s always advisable to conduct a severe weather insurance policy checkup with your independent insurance agent well in advance.
What’s a Severe Weather Insurance Policy Checkup?
This process involves reviewing your homeowner’s insurance policy or business insurance policies to establish if you are indeed protected from various instances of severe weather and to what extent. Typically, homeowners insurance covers damages caused by windstorms, fire, hailstorms, lightning, water (but not flooding), etc.
Most business insurance policies also offer coverage for some types of severe weather, too, and is likely to be a covered risk in your property damage and comprehensive coverage. However, your policy may not cover all forms of severe weather.
Unfortunately, basic homeowners insurance and business insurance policies might not provide adequate coverage for severe weather perils in many cases. You might be surprised to find out that your policy doesn’t cover disasters involving sinkholes, earthquakes, and flooding.
Further, some severe weather events frequently require separate insurance policies. These can include flood insurance and hurricane insurance, for example. Companies sell these policies separately from regular homeowners and business insurance for a variety of reasons.
That’s where the importance of conducting a severe weather insurance policy checkup comes in. This routine checkup lets you know the specific scenarios the policy covers.
What To Look For During Your Severe Weather Insurance Policy Checkup
Here are some crucial tips to guide you when reviewing your homeowners and business insurance policies.
Consider the Extent of Coverage
Just because you have homeowners insurance doesn’t mean that your entire home and everything you own has been covered. For example, some companies will only provide depreciated coverage for specific items after a windstorm, such as your roof.
This means that if the roof is currently worth $5000 and costs $10,000 during installation before the windstorm, the insurance company will only settle the roof’s current value. You’ll have to dig into your pockets to cover the remaining cost.
Other policies might have separate deductibles that kick in in the event of certain weather damages, so it’s important to know your policy in this regard. Beware of Hurricane and Windstorm deductibles that may have been applied without your knowledge.
Be Aware of Specific Items Covered
Create a list of everything you own covered by the insurance provider. The inventory should include:
- Specific details, such as size, model, and brand name (e.g., 60-inch (brand name) flatscreen TV, model SX2593).
- Photograph or video of the items.
- Value of the items.
In addition, consider grouping smaller-priced items such as cookware, linens, and toys to make the process easier.
Update Your Inventory
Having a severe weather insurance policy checkup also involves keeping an updated record of your home inventory. This involves taking photos and retaining receipts of what you own, making it easier for insurance companies to settle your claim when disaster strikes. Taking a video is helpful too, and be sure to record the make, model numbers, and year of your inventory items.
Be sure to store your inventory list in a safe place, such as a fireproof/waterproof box or bank safe deposit box, free from harm from a severe weather event.
It’s always advisable to update your inventory every year, preferably at the beginning of the year. This is because disaster strikes without warning, and you may not have enough time to update your inventory at such a moment. Plus, it can be a stressful time if you’ve suffered a loss from a severe weather event, and you might not remember everything you have.
Be Aware of Your Local Environment
Finding out the most common disasters in your local area will help you choose a suitable policy. For instance, adding earthquake insurance to your policy would be wise if you live in California. Adding hurricane insurance and flood insurance would make sense if you live in a coastal area.
Don’t just assume that your homeowners’ insurance covers all that – it’s better to be safe than sorry.
The Bottom Line
Having homeowners insurance and business insurance protects your home from certain disasters — there’s no doubt about that. But conducting a severe weather insurance policy checkup, preferably once a year, lets you know the extent of coverage to expect when disaster strikes.
Given the unpredictable nature of natural disasters over the past few years, the least you can do as a homeowner is to be fully prepared by securing the right coverage for your home, property, or even both.
Be Proactive: Schedule a Severe Weather Insurance Policy Checkup with ICNJ
Now is a great time to reach out to us here at the Insurance Center of North Jersey to check your insurance policies for severe weather insurance coverage.