What about flooding?
- Hurricane insurance is part of a standard homeowner’s policy in Florida.
- Hurricane insurance doesn’t cover flooding, so you will need an additional policy.
- If you live in a high-risk area, you might be required to purchase an additional windstorm policy.
- There are four levels of hurricane insurance deductibles mandated by the state and you should choose yours based on your financial situation.
- Taking mitigation steps can reduce your premium.
Hurricanes are a fact of life in Florida. Most of us have our emergency supplies at the ready but are we really prepared for the damage these storms can do to our homes?
While hurricane insurance is part of a standard homeowner’s policy in Florida, it may not cover what you think. As the peak months – August through October – for hurricanes approach, it’s time to look at your homeowner’s insurance policy to find out exactly what is covered and explore purchasing additional insurance.
It’s important to read the fine print of your policy. What is the coverage for things like wind, rain, and flood? What does it cost? We explore what hurricane insurance actually covers and how you can get properly insured before storms.
Hurricane insurance is part of your standard homeowner’s policy
In Florida, you cannot buy hurricane insurance because it’s not separate coverage – it’s included in your standard policy – be it homeowner’s, renter’s, mobile home, or condo insurance. If you are a renter, your landlord’s policy only covers damage to the building, so you need a renter’s policy to cover your personal belongings.
The hurricane insurance included in your policy is reflected in the average annual home insurance cost for Florida, which is $3,643, $1,338 more than the national average.
Some damage isn’t covered by hurricane insurance
If you examine your homeowner’s policy, you’ll see that it covers some hurricane damage, but not all. For example, it may cover wind damage but if your home is in a high-risk beachfront or coastal area, windstorm coverage may require a separate policy.
Flood coverage is another issue. Talk to your insurance agent about a federal program that offers flood insurance via the National Flood Insurance Program or about adding an endorsement to your policy. Even if you don’t live in a high-risk area, strong storms can wreak havoc inland.
Remember that storms can cause a lot of damage to vehicles as well, from flooding to your car or truck crushed by a tree. This damage is covered by the comprehensive part of your auto policy, so check that you have purchased this coverage.
What your policy does cover in the event of a hurricane
The hurricane insurance included in your homeowner’s policy protects you from wind gusts, rain, tornadoes, and hail if they are directly caused by the hurricane.
Windstorms are covered by the hurricane insurance part of your policy but, as mentioned above, talk to your insurance agent if your home is in a high-risk area to make sure you don’t need a separate policy.
What’s generally covered under hurricane insurance is your home’s structure, outbuildings such as sheds, garages, greenhouses and pool houses, interior property damage, and damage to personal property.
If you can’t live in your home because of damage it sustained, your policy covers additional living expenses. How much does this coverage cost?
Your hurricane insurance deductible
While it’s not a separate policy, hurricane insurance carries a separate deductible, which is the portion you pay for repairs before your insurance starts paying – they will deduct this amount from your claim
payment. Florida law mandates that insurance companies offer four different options for your hurricane deductible: $500, 2%, 5%, or 10%.
A percentage deductible is based on your home’s total insured value. That means if you own a $300,000 home and opt for the 5% deductible, you will pay the first $15,000 of repair costs.
Your hurricane deductible applies only when the National Hurricane Center (NHC) names the hurricane and has issued a watch or warning. Wind damage is considered hurricane-related by insurance companies until the watch or warning has ended.
Remember that if the NHC hasn’t named a storm and issued a watch or warning, a separate deductible will apply for other damage covered by your standard policy, including fire, theft, lightning, wind damage, and hail. This deductible can also be a fixed amount or a percentage.
Note that even if there are multiple storms in a given year, you only pay your deductible once.
Choosing your deductible
The higher the deductible, the lower the premium but is that the best choice? It’s important to look at your overall financial situation.
If you have the $300,000 home illustrated above, can you afford to pay $15,000 of the repair cost? If not, a higher monthly premium with a lower deductible is probably best for you. However, if you have $15,000, you can save money on premiums by choosing the 2% deductible.
It’s nice that hurricane insurance is included with your homeowner’s policy but for complete protection, talk with your insurance agent about additional policies you might need and which deductible amount is best for you. Also, ask about available discounts for storm mitigation steps you’ve taken to protect your home, such as installing shutters and impact-resistant windows.
Don’t let a hurricane blow away your belongings
When a hurricane warning is issued, it’s too late to buy coverage. Remember that your homeowner’s hurricane insurance doesn’t cover things like flood damage, so the time to take a hard look at your policy is now.
At Avante Insurance, we’ll work with you to build the complete coverage you need with a deductible that works for you. Reach out today because you never know what tomorrow will bring.
This blog and website are made available by the publisher for educational and informational purposes only. It is not to be used as a substitute for competent insurance, legal, or tax advice from a licensed professional in your state.