It’s Storm Season! Are You Ready?
This year, storm season began on May 20th. It is expected to end on November 30th. Living on the east coast leaves us vulnerable to hurricanes, and we all need to know how to protect our homes, our cars and our businesses should one hit the tri-state area.
In this post we will learn about what we need to do to insure our home, car and business, as well as how to prepare each for an impending storm.
The first thing to understand is that no one policy covers everything. Your homeowners’ policy will protect you from damage caused by hurricanes and a host of other disasters. However, it will also tell you what it doesn’t cover.
Among the disasters not covered is flood. In order to protect your home fully, you may also need a flood policy, especially if you live in an area that can be affected by storm surge and water rise.
The National Flood Insurance Program offers two policies:
- Dwelling – covers the physical structure of the home after a flood.
- Contents – covers the belongings inside your home.
Review your policies. Know what you’re covered for.
Most standard home policies cover the following damage to the structure of your home:
- Lightning Strikes
- Volcanic Eruptions
Check your policy limits to confirm that the costs of rebuilding your home are covered, should you need it. Real estate value can be very different from the cost to rebuild.
Review your deductibles for hurricanes/windstorms. Insurers from every coastal state include separate deductibles for hurricanes and/or windstorms. You can find them on your policy’s Declarations Page.
If you own a condo, be sure to check with the management company and bylaws to understand the building’s master insurance policy coverage and what you need to cover in your own insurance policy.
Make sure you don’t forget about your possessions. Create an inventory of all the items in your home and note their cash value. Make sure that your policy covers the cost to replace those items.
Does your policy include coverage for additional expenses if you can’t occupy your home? Most standard policies have some coverage for this and offer higher coverage limits depending on the policy. Be sure to check the time limits that may be part of this type of coverage.
Although homeowners’ insurance covers a lot of disasters, there are some that are not covered, such as:
- Maintenance Damage
- Sewer Backup
For storm season, the two policies you need to focus on are flood and sewer backup.
Flood insurance is offered through the National Flood Insurance Program.
Sewer Backup is not covered under a typical homeowners’ policy. Normally, it is purchased as a separate product or as an endorsement to a homeowners’ policy.
Preparing your Home for a Hurricane
When preparing your home, there are many things to consider. Emergency evacuations, flooding, loose items in your yard. All of them need to be prepped and secured for the utmost safety. So, be sure to do the following:
- Locate your water, gas and electricity shut offs
- Inspect and seal your roof
- Use sandbags for flooding
- Prepare an evacuation plan
- Prepare an emergency kit
- Clean your gutters
- Prepare your emergency generator
- Secure outdoor items
- Prepare windows, doors and garage doors
Is your car covered if it’s damaged by a storm? The first thing to do is to read your insurance policy thoroughly. Most states have requirements for coverage, for example, NJ requires the following:
- $15,000 bodily injury per person per accident
- $30,000 bodily injury for all persons per accident
- $5,000 property damage liability
- $15,000/$30,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury
- $5,000 per accident with $500 deductible uninsured/underinsured motorist property damage
Although New Jersey holds the requirements above, it does not require drivers to purchase a personal liability, or Collision and Comprehensive policies.
If a tree falls on your car, and you can no longer drive it, is it covered by your car insurance? Do you have a comprehensive coverage policy? If you answered yes, then you are covered. Most policies typically cover the following types of storm damage:
Comprehensive policies also cover vandalism, theft, fire, and hitting an animal. Don’t forget that deductibles will apply here as well. Review your options with your insurance agent to be sure you get the level of coverage that’s right for you.
Preparing your Car for a Hurricane
- Check all parts of your car that require regular maintenance
- Check and replenish all fluids
- Replace windshield wipers
- Put air in your tires
- Take pictures of your car’s interior and exterior before the storm
- Fill your gas tank and reserve canisters to full capacity
- Prepare an emergency kit
- Pack a go bag with personal items that you will need if you have to leave your home
- Park your car in your garage or other safe place
- If you can’t park in your garage, cover it
- Roll up windows and add tape to leaky window seals
- Remove all important documents from your car (registration, insurance card, etc.) and keep them in a safe place
What kind of coverage do you need for your business? We’ll help you explore that. Here’s where to start:
Hurricane coverage is typically provided in property insurance. There are several levels of coverage to choose from.
- All Peril – The most comprehensive coverage. Covers everything except for what is specifically excluded in your policy.
- Named Peril – Will only cover what is specifically noted in the policy. It is less expensive, but also offers little coverage.
- Wind and Hail – This is the most restrictive policy available. It only covers damaged caused by wind and/or hail.
Each of these types of coverage comes with a deductible.
Storm season can be a potential danger to your livelihood. When considering storm coverage, flood insurance can be overlooked. Although property coverage covers damage caused by hurricanes, they often exclude flooding that occurred due to water rise.
Some insurers will cover the damage caused by hurricane winds, but they won’t cover the flood damage caused by rising water. Be sure to review your policy to see what you’re covered for.
The worst thing that can happen after a storm is not being able to have your business operational. Be sure you are covered by having Business Interruption Coverage.
After a disaster, it can take more time than people anticipate to get their businesses up and running again. This coverage compensates you for lost income if you have to vacate the premises of your business due to disaster damage. It also covers revenue you would have earned had the disaster not occurred, as well as operating expenses.
Know what’s in your policy.
Preparing your Business for a Hurricane
Here are some things you can do to prepare your business to minimize any damage that may occur.
- Pay close attention to forecasts
- Confirm your employee contact list is up to date
- Secure all doors and board up windows to protect from flying debris
- Clean out floor drains and catch basins
- Check sump pumps
- Anchor and fill above ground tanks with water or product to keep them in place
- Fill fuel tanks on your emergency generator and fire pumps
- Fill vehicle fuel tanks
- Make sure your fire protection equipment is working
- Make sure all important records are protected
- Take pictures business location and equipment before the storm
We hope you’ve found this information helpful. If you have any questions regarding any of your policies, let us know! Contact us at your earliest convenience for a quote.