The greatest benefit of consulting with an insurance professional is enlarging the small print and finding the plan that works for your individual circumstances. Terms can be vague, policies unclear and payouts uncertain. When it comes to storm damage it’s best to know not only if you’re covered but just how the term “storm” plays out for policy holders. Pinning down this definition can be as messy as the worst weather, so let’s take a look at what you need to know to be ready.
Clearing up a storm
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word storm as an atmospheric disturbance marked by wind and usually by rain, snow, hail, sleet or thunder and lightning. It also includes wind speed in the definition along with “a serious disturbance of any element of nature.” The italicizing of the word “usually” is our own and, when coupled with the definition in quotations, illustrates how ambiguous the notion of what a storm is can be. It’s that kind of ambiguity which can leave a policy holder disappointed when they find out they weren’t covered for what they presumed.
The National Storm Damage Center (NSDC) offers an expert breakdown which helps clarify the many forms of a storm. To the atmospheric hazards listed above the NSDC also adds:
• Straight-line winds or Downbursts
• Ice storms
These are the risks that homeowners around the country face and are usually region-dependent. Where you live will typically decide which insurance safeguards are sensible to have in place. Unfortunately, the more likely you are to face a certain storm/elemental hazard based on your location the more (not less) likely it is that you won’t be covered for it and will have to take out extra protection.
How homeowners insurance factors in
The variability of insurance policies is a prime reason to always review them carefully. You will typically need homeowners insurance before you can get a mortgage, with the average cost being between $300 and $1000 according to figures from the Federal Reserve Bureau. The NSDC states that most homeowners insurance policies provide cover against wind, tornado and hail damage but anything beyond that may require additional policy protection.
Homeowners insurance coverage comes in six types, ranging from damage to your home and its connected structures, damage to or loss of your home’s contents and personal liability/medical payments to third parties.
Typically purchased as part of your homeowners insurance is hazard insurance which can, again, be variable on factors such as your location and the size/value of your property. In some instances, it will cover you in the event of certain hazards (including fire) while in others additional coverage will need to be purchased.
How to physically prepare for storms and severe weather
This article from the Insurance Information Institute offers tips on how to prepare and safeguard yourself and your property against severe weather. It makes the important recommendation of being aware of your level of coverage for Additional Living Expenses (ALE). These are the costs you may incur by having to live temporarily in a hotel or other facility while storm damage to your home is being repaired (assuming you haven’t made preparations to live with family or friends).
How much you pay for your storm protection policy may be reduced by taking a few preventative measures. If your property is currently vulnerable to storms by needing repair (porch, gazebo, roof, garage etc.) then make those repairs if you can. If a storm should hit it will take costly advantage of your home’s existing weak points. Here are some strong suggestions for storm-proofing yourself, from the must-have storm shutters up to a reinforced safety room.
If you’ve reviewed your policy to see where you stand and made your property as stormproof as possible, then your next step is to stay informed. Resources such as the National Hurricane Center, the National Weather Service and this list of tips for environmental hazard safety will add an extra layer of preparation and comfort.
Always speak to an experienced insurance provider to find out just how storm damage will be classified based on your unique situation. This will lead to the best possible protection for you, your family and your property.
Avante Insurance is a South Florida family owned and operated insurance agency providing an array of insurance services to meet the individual needs of our customers. If you’re considering protecting against storm damage or any other outcome, you can call us at 305-648-7070, request an insurance quote or contact us with any questions or comments.