If you’re able to escape a natural disaster as horrific as Hurricane Dorian with your life, consider yourself lucky. But even the “lucky” are left with nothing. No clothes, or possessions what-so-ever. Not even a toothbrush. Imagine everything you own and treasure, gone.
While insurance will help to recover some of the costs associated with rebuilding homes and businesses, it’s little consolation to those whose lives have been turned upside down, but it’s a start.
As more and more stories surface from families in the bahamas, it’s hard not to try to imagine ourselves in a similar space. You may be left wondering how well your homeowners or renters insurance will hold up in a natural disaster.
The answer largely depends on the disaster. Damage from many natural events are covered by a standard policy, but a handful are not, and therefore require separate coverage for protection. Many homeowners and renters don’t have adequate protection to cover all their losses.
Think Columbus is free from mother nature’s wrath?
It was 11 years ago this week that Hurricane Ike made landfall and become one of the costliest storms to hit the United States.
Although Ike was no longer a hurricane as its winds battered Ohio, there were several official winds reported at 75 miles per hour, or hurricane force including in Columbus. It’s estimated that Ike did more than 1 billion dollars damage in the Buckeye state, and was the costliest storm since the Xenia tornado in 1974.
You may also remember this past May, a string of tornados so tightly packed that one may have crossed the path carved by another tore across Ohio overnight, smashing homes and blowing out windows. One person was killed and at least 130 were injured. Some of the heaviest damage was reported just outside Dayton, Ohio.
Although hurricanes and tornados may not be the norm for Columbus, we are definitely not out of harms way and we all should have coverage for anything.
Here’s what you need to know about your insurance covering your home or business. Cars are another matter, but we’ll get to that, too.
What insurance covers what?
Homeowners insurance will typically pay to repair the structure of the property up to the insured amount. It also covers possessions inside the home, usually between 50% to 70% of what the structure of your home is insured for.
Condo insurance covers possessions as well as some structural elements, such as drywall. The condo association’s insurance should cover damage to the building.
Renter’s insurance only covers your possessions, often excluding appliances unless otherwise specified, but typically your landlord will have a policy that covers the structural elements of the apartment.
It’s important to note that damage from flooding and earthquakes is usually excluded from homeowners, condo and renters insurance. To get flood and earthquake protection, you must buy a separate policy. You must also purchase separate coverage for your possessions as these are not automatically included in the flood policy.
A policy will reimburse you for any additional living expenses you incur if the damage to your property is so great that it is unlivable till repaired. This typically includes costs like hotels, restaurant meals or laundromat expenses. These are for costs that exceed your typical costs. However, you can’t have an exorbitant restaurant bill. It comes with limits.
Any theft or damage done to your home by looters or vandals after a disaster is also covered by your homeowners, condo or renters policy.
Your insurer can cover only what it knows you lost. That’s why it’s so important to keep accurate records for filing claims in the future.
Make sure your insurance policy accurately describes your home – including square footage, number of rooms, age and materials it’s constructed from. It should also account for any recent improvements – like a new roof or water heater – and upgrades – such as a room addition or new pool.
It’s also important to have an inventory of your possessions. It can be hard to remember what you owned in the emotional aftermath of a disaster, especially if you and your family are dealing with injuries or worse.
An easy way to take inventory ahead of time is to go through each room and closet and record every possession on your smartphone’s video. When possible, note the make and model of items, especially higher-end appliances.
Rare or expensive items such as art, collectibles or jewelry require additional coverage and must be appraised first before getting a separate policy.
What about your car?
If your auto insurance policy includes comprehensive coverage then your insurer will pay for costs to repair damage to your car from any peril, such as major weather events or something like a fallen branch. Unlike homeowners insurance, your auto policy typically covers flood and earthquake damage.
Your auto insurance will often cover rental car fees while your car is repaired or replaced but check with your insurer. In some cases, it’s not automatically included, so you have to purchase this coverage at an extra cost.
It’s always best to be prepared for the unthinkable, and if the time comes that you’ll need this coverage, you’ll be glad you have it. Getting the right coverage at a price you can afford doesn’t have to be the result of seemingly endless quotes. Call Guy Williams Insurance. We’re partners with strong, outstanding carriers that want your business. We’ll match you with the right one, at a price that works for you. Get covered.