Hurricane season is a time of year when all Floridians keep their eyes on the Atlantic. Hurricanes are a way of life for Florida residents and we are well accustomed to the havoc they can wreak. Taking the right precautions and having the correct insurance can make all the difference when a hurricane hits and your property is destroyed. Our Miami insurance law attorneys offer the following advice to help ensure you are ready.
Review Your Existing Coverage
It is imperative that you have the correct type and amount of hurricane insurance before hurricane season even starts. Once a hurricane watch or tropical storm warning is issued, your insurance company will not allow you to add to or change your existing policy. There are several key items to look for in your policy according to our Miami insurance law attorneys.
Standard Coverage & Hurricane Coverage
While reviewing your insurance policy, pay attention to what is covered. Some standard policies cover damage from hurricanes while others do not and require that you purchase an additional policy for hurricane coverage. In large part, whether or not you need additional coverage on top of your standard policy is determined by where you live. The more likely that you will be hit by a catastrophic hurricane, the more likely you will need the additional hurricane policy.
Your insurance policy should also cover damage caused by high winds, storm surges, and flooding. Flooding is not typically covered in standard policies so double-check and make sure you have coverage for this. If you do not, add it.
Policy Limits & Deductibles
How much is your home worth? How much would it cost to rebuild it if necessary? While many people know the answer to the first question, they have no clue as to the second. Do your research and find out the cost to rebuild, as your policy limit will need to be high enough to cover the cost should your home be destroyed in a hurricane.
A deductible is the amount a homeowner must pay before the insurance company will pay anything to cover the damage. Our Miami insurance law attorneys have seen the matter of hurricane deductibles confuse more than one homeowner over the years. Most property owners believe they have a flat fee they must pay as their deductible. However, this may not be the case. It is standard practice in areas prone to have hurricanes for there to be a separate deductible for damages caused by hurricanes, and this deductible amount is generally determined by a percentage of the insured value of the home rather than a flat amount. This percentage could be as much as 5% or more. If a home whose insured value is $250,000 is heavily damaged in a hurricane, and the deductible is 5%, the homeowner would need to come out of pocket $12,500. Many homeowners are not prepared to pay the percentage amount they owe.
Coverage for Possessions
Having to start over and replace all your belongings would be a tremendous feat and would likely cost a large sum of money. Because of this, our Miami insurance law attorneys suggest making an inventory of all your possessions. Taking pictures and cataloging your belongings is a great way to prove to the insurance company exactly how much coverage is needed to replace what you have lost. It is also a good way for you to ensure that your policy limits are high enough that you will receive adequate compensation should you lose your possessions.
Right to Repair Clauses
Some insurance companies include a “right to repair” clause in their insurance policies. These clauses state that should your home become damaged, the insurance company has the right to have their own contractors make the necessary repairs to your dwelling. This process removes a lot of the control over the repairs to your home from your hands, and some homeowners have reported different problems with this process. Consider it carefully before agreeing to this clause.
Additional Living Expenses Clauses
Damage caused by the hurricane may render your home uninhabitable for a period of time. Additional living expenses (ALE) coverage will cover any additional costs or expenses you may incur as a result of being unable to live in your dwelling. While most insurance policies do include ALE clauses, you will want to check the following:
- Policy Limits: Most ALE policies are for 20% of the amount of insurance coverage that is carried on the home. If you do not feel this is enough coverage for you and your family, you will need to increase this amount.
- Time Limits: Review the time limits for the coverage. Keep in mind that after a hurricane it may take a while to get your property fully repaired as there will be many homeowners in the same situation.
Supplement or Amend Your Existing Coverage
Once you have reviewed your policy and determined that changes need to be made, it is time to reach out to your insurance agent. Again, this needs to be done before a hurricane watch or tropical storm warning is issued. Waiting too long can result in not being able to obtain the level of insurance coverage needed for your home. Also, keep in mind that it is acceptable to shop around for the right coverage for you and your family. Once a hurricane starts heading your way, you’ll be glad you did.
Speak With Our Miami Insurance Law Attorneys Today
If you have questions about your coverage or have damage from a hurricane, you need to speak with one of our Miami insurance law attorneys. With more than twenty years of experience representing policyholders in hurricane disputes, we have the knowledge you are looking for in your lawyer. Contact us to schedule a consultation with a member of our top-tier legal team.Share