When a tornado, hurricane or other severe weather phenomenon is heading toward your town, the last thing you want to think about is whether or not you have the proper insurance coverage. Your focus should be on getting your loved ones to safety, not if you will have to pay for a new roof out of your own pocket.
The following tips can help homeowners select the best type of insurance coverage for their home, as well as know what to do in the event of an emergency:
Know your Insuranc Categories
As Homeowners Insurance Guide notes, the definition of “property” as it applies to your insurance policy varies a bit from state to state as well as between companies. To be sure that you have the proper coverage, it’s important to know what is generally considered to be a “covered” property. For example, the actual house where you live falls under this definition. Other categories to discuss with your insurance agent include any other structures you might have on your property like a detached garage, a shed or a barn; personal property like furniture and appliances; and the loss of use category, which applies when the home is no longer safe for people to live there.
Open versus named perils
In the world of insurance, a “peril” is something that will cause a loss to occur to a home. These can range from fires and floods to other hazards. While a package policy offers coverage for many types of perils, it is not usually all-inclusive.
As a homeowner, you can also purchase extended coverage to handle other perils, including windstorms, hail, and broken glass. If you live in an area of the country that is prone to getting hurricanes, tornadoes, haboobs (sand storms) or other potentially devastating weather-related conditions, it’s vital you speak with your insurance agent sooner rather than later to verify what is covered in your homeowners policy and, if necessary, purchase additional specific insurance.
For example, while the majority of property insurance policies cover damage that results from hurricanes, it might not extend to taking care of anything flood-related. Since hurricanes inherently involve a lot of water and flooding can be an issue, this is an important point to discuss with your agent. If, after speaking with your insurance company, you are not happy with the coverage that you have or you feel that the price is too high, it might be a good idea to get some quick internet quotes.
How To File an Insurance Claim After a Natural Disaster
If the worst happens and a tornado, hurricane or other natural weather disaster hits your home, contact your insurance agent as soon as it’s safe to do so. You will probably set up an appointment for an insurance adjuster to come by and assess the damage to your home and belongings. As House Logic notes, in the case of a hurricane, these visits will be scheduled in order of the amount of damage, so be sure to provide your agent with an accurate estimate of how badly your home has been impacted.
To get ready for the visit with the insurance adjuster and help prepare for the entire process of filing a claim, create a home inventory list that includes detailed information about what was damaged — this includes the model numbers of appliances, computers and how much you paid for these now-damaged items.
Although you probably want to start cleaning up, don’t throw anything away until the claims adjuster has come by to check out your property. Be as patient as possible during this time; chances are good that your insurance company is dealing with dozens of other claims and it may take some time before you receive your compensation.
Remember, homeowners who are dealing with storm-related damage can fall prey to dishonest contractors; once you have settled with your insurance company and have the money needed for repairs, be sure to hire someone based on referrals and references, get a written contract for the work to be done, and avoid door-to-door contractors who show up wanting to fix your roof.
From learned experience coming from our disaster in January, have your agent print out a list less the legalese of what exactly is covered in your policy under various categories. I learned the hard way that replacement cost for a dwelling is just fine but on personal property, replacement value is better to be spelled out as some things have an antique or intrinsic value and the insurance companies hand over a loss list to a third party to assess reimbursement and they may have different values than you. When the third party on our possessions equated a massive four drawer solid maple office desk with one of those tube and particle board contraptions they call a computer desk and also selected the various cheapest examples of everything else the difference between cost as determined by them and value as determined by us was in the neighborhood of 7k. I traditionally use the business editions of a desktop and a laptop computers and the amount of unrecoverable software on lost units is not even taken into account. There is a world of difference in a HP business desktop with over eight hundred bucks worth of software and an e machines with only an allowance for a Norton av software and the same for the laptop with the suggestion to replace it with a tablet with no software is mind boggling. If you are not able to obtain an exact listing of coverage, there are support groups available you can call on for assistance. When one is seventy five years old and never had a loss so have nothing to compare with it is a steep learning process and can become quite costly..
One of the things we’ve done (and need to update!) is to take pictures of EVERY room in your home etc. It’s verification of the item and it’s condition and keep it stored safely on a small flash drive away from your home. Inside your car, just somewhere that will keep it safe. You can print out a list, but it’s sure time consuming & still vulnerable to water etc. Believe it or not, you forget A LOT of items! Though we’ve never experienced a major loss ourselves, we did have a break-in where they literally turned everything upside down & inside out…we sorted for months, item by item and still are not sure just what all was stolen :-( My parent experienced a fire loss and I know what she went through, “estimates” of how many pairs of underpants, “estimates” of how many bras, “estimates” on this and that were a horrendous task, and she came out on the short end of the estimate.
My experience after this is you are always going to come out on the short end with any insurance company. Best you can do with documentary evidence (which is largely ignored) is limit the amount of injustice
Amen Harold! On my policy they had exclusions for antiques, collectibles, art, etc. Anything that was controversial was excluded.
It makes a huge difference who the third party is that is doing the assessment. I did have the right to argue certain points, but it really made no difference.
I agree with Harold, no matter how much you document you will come out on the short end with an insurance company. :(
Not to bad-mouth the entire insurance industry, it is kind of a necessary-evil, but when considering it, it helps to remember some history. Lloyd’s of London, one of the very first of the batch, used to be a rather low-class sailor bar that was a hangout for what we would now call “bookies”. Ship owners figured out that they could bet on the odds that their vessels would sink, or have some other disaster before they could sell their cargo. If the ship sank, they got some of the investment back. If not, cost of doing business.
In spite of various advertising about how they “take care of you”, the actual bottom line is that you are just betting against yourself. “TSHTF (in some version) will happen, and you pay me $X sooner than if I put $X / $Y a month in a tin can in the back yard to equal $X”. It’s a little disconcerting to realize that the best way to make a profit on an insurance policy is to have an accident or die today. I’ll pass, where I can.
Think Vegas, or Atlantic City. Just like any other gamble, The House Always Wins. You might get lucky. Probably not. The game is rigged.