ORLANDO, Fla.—Now as we watch the damage that Hurricane Florence has been causing to North and South Carolina and potentially also other states, it’s more important than ever to make sure we have the right insurance coverage to protect our property and belongings.
Photo courtesy of the Florida Department of Financial Services
It is also important to have that inventory well documented as we have talked about before (almost every hurricane season.) This inventory must be kept preferably in photos with a cost estimate stored in a place that will not be subject to loss due to any events such as fire or storm damage. Regarding the cost estimate, it would be best if you keep receipts or invoices on hand at the time of submitting your claim to the insurance company.
Another issue regarding hurricane financial preparation are the insurance deductibles. As we know or should know by now, insurance coverage for damage caused by a windstorm during a hurricane does not include coverage for flooding.
A hurricane deductible is the percentage that you must pay before the insurance company processes any disbursement. Depending on the type of coverage you purchased, those deductibles range from 2 to 10 percent of the insurance covering the dwelling at the time of loss. It is very common to discover hidden damage once the contractor begins repairs. If you have already filed the original claim, a supplemental claim can be easily added to the total amount, although it may cause additional delays and even a claim denial if the original windstorm damage was not reported to the insurance company timely.
In Florida, we only have to pay one hurricane deductible within the calendar year, assuming you will continue your coverage with the same insurer for second or more hurricanes occurring the same calendar year.
Your hurricane deductible will apply once a hurricane has been named and a first watch or warning has been issued, that’s when it starts and will end 72 after the last hurricane watch or warning gets lifted by the Hurricane Center for any part of Florida.
As an example, with Hurricane Irma —after it made landfall and travelled northward through Florida, it was downgraded to a tropical storm and later a tropical depression. Those downgrades had no bearing on the hurricane deductible since Hurricane Irma was a named hurricane when the first hurricane watch or warning was issued for Florida by the National Hurricane Center. Additionally, the hurricane deductible applies until 72 hours after the last watch or warning is lifted, regardless of the status of the storm at that time.
Policyholders should always file claims even when the cost to repair the windstorm damage is less than the hurricane deductible in order for the insurer to keep record of the amount of credit to be applied towards the deductible. That way if a second storm during the same calendar year affects your property with windstorm damage, your out-of-pocket will be adjusted according to your deductible balance for the current year. Note that if the hurricane deductible was met in full with the first covered windstorm claim, the “all peril” or standard deductible would apply to other windstorm claims resulting from a hurricane that occur in the same year.
ENJOY LIFE RESPONSIBLY!