It has been nearly a month since Hurricane Matthew hit North Carolina’s coast. Our thoughts go out to the thousands who are still recovering from extensive damage and, in particular, flooding from the storm. In addition to the emotional loss of those who were injured or lost their lives during the storm, it is estimated that the cost of flooding from Matthew will exceed 1.5 billion dollars. As those in the eastern part of our state continue to deal with the devastation from the storm, what can you do to protect yourself financially from the horror of a future hurricane?
Here are 5 things to know about insurance coverage and hurricanes
Attention homeowners: flood insurance is an EXTRA policy As a responsible homeowner, you have standard homeowner’s insurance. However, even a policy offering the maximum amount of coverage will most likely not cover flooding. Many policies offer limited coverage for small amounts of sewage or water damage but will not protect you from massive flooding. Further, minimal water damage to your home that is not considered “flooding” may still exceed the limited coverage in your policy for issues categorized as “sewage damage” or “mold and mildew.” Additionally, even if your insurance policy does cover hurricane damage you may have a separate hurricane and/ or windstorm deductible to pay in order to file an insurance claim after a storm.
For renters: purchase rental insurance If you live in an apartment or house that you don’t own, your landlord likely has coverage for any damage to the property. However, it is up to YOU to purchase protection for the items in the home. Renter’s insurance is fairly inexpensive and easy to purchase. It is required by some landlords.
Get organized Whether you rent or own it is important to make sure that you have enough insurance to cover the items in your home. Before disaster strikes, compile a home inventory of your valuables. You should take photos or a video of important items and keep the documents somewhere safe. This is a good idea in case of other disasters, such as a home break-in or fire.
Don’t wait Once a hurricane has been named or is on the way it is highly unlikely you will be able to purchase additional flood or hurricane insurance. Most policies also have a waiting period before they go into effect. So, waiting until the hurricane season next year to purchase additional insurance may not give you enough time to protect yourself.
Filing a claim If you are currently dealing with an insurance claim, be sure to document all of your conversations with the insurance adjuster. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or reach out for help if you don’t agree with the way your claim is being handled. The North Carolina Bar Association and Legal Aid of North Carolina are offering free legal help to those harmed by Hurricane Matthew. Call 1-800- 662- 7407 or visit http://www.legalaidnc.org/get-help/Pages/hurricane-matthew/default.aspx for more information. Stay safe.