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I’ve always been fascinated by the weather. It should thus come as no surprised that my eyes are glued to the TV (or web) whenever a hurricane approaches land. The last few days have been no exception, as Isaac made his way across the Gulf and took aim for Louisiana.
With that as a backdrop, I wanted to share a few financial facts that those in coastal areas should be familiar with well before their homes are threatened by a hurricane and the associated flooding and wind damage.
For starters, it’s important to know that flood insurance policies don’t kick in until 30 days after purchase. Thus, you can’t wait for a Jim Cantore to planning for his visit to your neighborhood before buying a policy. On a related note, did you know that federal flood insurance policies top out at $250k?
Also… I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s important to note that there’s typically no coverage for fallen trees that were brought down by “weather perils” unless they land on your house, fence, or car. It it is covered then then whose insurance pays depends on whose stuff the tree fell on. For example, if your tree fell on your neighbor’s house, their insurance will cover the damage and pay for removal.
What about lightning? Most homeowner’s policies cover lightning damage, and many policies even cover damage to electronics due to power surges — though their may be limitations in what types of products are actually covered (e.g., your TV might be covered but your computer might not be).
Speaking of power… If your power goes out for an extended period and the food in your fridge and/or freezer goes bad, you’re likely out of luck. Some companies offer between $250-$500 in food spoilage coverage as a policy enhancement, but it’s not a common feature of most policies.
As for your car, many perils fall under your comprehensive coverage — if you haven’t cancelled that aspect of your coverage to save money. But there are typically limitations and exclusions, so be sure to read your policy consider the implications before adding or subtracting coverage.
Hopefully you aren’t in Isaac’s path but if you are, here are some tips for filing hurricane claims.