As millions seek to rebuild after recent tropical storms and hurricanes battered the East Coast, many homeowners and renters wish they had checked their insurance policies. Relying on basic homeowner’s or renter’s insurance may leave out important types of damage, leaving residents vulnerable to financial hardship.
How Hurricane Ian May Financially Ruin Many Homeowners and Renters
Hurricane Ian was a powerful storm that recently devastated many areas in its path. According to a recent news article, many residents in Florida suffered insurmountable flood damage, among other types of property damage.
Unfortunately, over a million homeowners may not have had flood insurance to cover the extensive damage. Reportedly:
- 30% of homes had no flood coverage
- 1.8 million homes were affected
- All 1.8 million homes were in the highest-risk area for flooding in the nation
In addition, 70% of households are not financially protected to cover the kind of out-of-pocket expense they will now face for flooding damage.
According to The Capitalist, Hurricane Ian may be one of the costliest storms in history. Estimated costs have exceeded $40 billion. The highest costs in the preliminary reports cite solar panel damage and flooding damage.
What Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?
Homeowner’s insurance can cover a wide variety of damage. However, it should be noted that a specific “storm” or “hurricane” policy does not exist. Instead, insurance companies offer policies that cover the potential damage a storm can cause.
For example, a homeowner’s insurance policy may cover wind damage or water damage. Insurance companies tend to use a great deal of jargon when writing policies. This leaves room for a company to deny coverage for a specific event.
What Specific Types of Storm Damage are Covered in a Homeowner’s Insurance Policy?
A basic homeowner’s insurance policy typically covers the following types of storm damage:
- Roof damage from strong winds
- Electrical wiring damage
- Water damage in walls
- Fallen trees and tree limb damage
- Wind damage to the structure of the home
- Basement flooding
However, strong storms and hurricanes can produce several other types of damage a homeowner’s policy may not explicitly cover.
What Does Renter’s Insurance Cover?
Renter’s insurance policies are very different from homeowner’s insurance policies. While some considerations are similar, renter’s insurance usually does not explicitly cover storms or hurricanes. However, depending on the policy, it may state coverage for possessions damaged by a storm.
What Specific Types of Storm Damage are Covered in a Renter’s Insurance Policy?
Generally, heavy storm and hurricane damage are included on a renter’s insurance policy in the following ways:
- Wind damage
- Damage from hail
- Water damage apart from flooding
- Damage from objects that fall and hit your property
- Fire damage caused by a lightning strike
- Damage from an explosion brought on by a natural gas line
While flooding is not covered by most renter’s insurance agreements, if the roof is damaged and rain is allowed inside the property, rain damage may be covered.
Will I Need Extra Insurance Coverage for a Storm in New Orleans?
New Orleans is prone to hurricanes and heavy flooding. According to a recent article, the city has been sinking since it was built.
In the early 18th century, the French Quarter was built just above sea level on loose soil. Even the early builders understood that the soil could barely support any structures, so they kept buildings to 2 or 4 levels.
In addition, surrounding marshlands were drained for building. However, the drainage system did not allow the land to replenish itself. By the 1930s, a third of the city was below sea level.
The city is also under threat of hurricanes and other powerful storms. According to the Hazard Mitigation Plan for the City of New Orleans, the city is prone to:
- Tropical storms
Collectively, the storms are referred to as tropical cyclones. They can cause extensive damage from rainfall, tornadoes, storm surge, and high winds. Homeowners and renters may need additional coverage.
What Extra Homeowner’s Insurance Will I Need Before a Storm?
If a storm is likely to hit a home, it is essential to revisit the homeowner’s policy to determine if any extra coverage may be needed.
For example, homeowner’s insurance policies rarely cover all flooding and wind damage. In most cases, a homeowner will need to add on to their current policy.
Insurance companies will need to explicitly state the type of coverage add-on to avoid any denied claims. Homeowners can contact their insurance company and ask for the following:
- Flood coverage as a separate type of damage
- Wind damage from a hurricane, tornado, or other specific storm
Insurance companies may exclude certain types of damage in locations prone to flooding or specific kinds of storms. Homeowners are encouraged to check their policies and add on the storm coverage they need to avoid serious financial repercussions.
What Extra Renter’s Insurance Will I Need Before a Storm?
Most renter’s insurance policies do not carry flood insurance. Given the many dangers of flash floods and heavy rain, it may be best for a renter to carry additional flood coverage. If flooding coverage is not offered as an add-on through the insurance company, the National Flood Insurance Program from FEMA may be able to supplement coverage.
How to Choose the Best Insurance Policy
Choosing the best insurance policy before a storm requires understanding the various types of insurance offered in the area and what is excluded. In most cases, meeting with an agent face-to-face can help prevent any communication loss.
Before a meeting, be sure to:
- Make a list of considered insurance companies
- When evaluating insurance companies, check their financial rating, including annual financial reports given to the state
- Consider AM Best rated insurance companies, one of the most respected rating agencies
- Make a list of possible damages that may be needed, paying attention to specifics (i.e., damage to walls from flood, damage to flooring from flooding)
If you have experienced damage from a recent storm and are struggling with legal issues concerning damage and business interruption, please call 504-200-0000 or contact ADK Law today.