With Harvey’s havoc still fresh in everyone’s mind, and Irma roaring toward the coast, there’s no doubt about it. Hurricane season has begun. And while the country watches the progress of these storms, those of us living in potentially affected areas have to wonder: would my insurance cover my home in the event of a hurricane?
Hurricane Harvey: A Warning
Sadly, for most of the homeowners affected by Harvey, the answer to that question is “no.” CNN reports that only a very small percentage of homes in Harvey’s path were covered by flood insurance. The latest cost estimates show about 70% of home damages caused by flooding won’t be covered by insurance.
Next up: Hurricane Irma
And now, the “potentially catastrophic” Hurricane Irma is roaring toward the northeastern Caribbean islands as a Category 5 storm, the National Hurricane Center said, threatening to slam into Antigua, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico by Wednesday before possibly taking aim at the US mainland.
Preparations to protect life and property in those areas “should be rushed to completion,” the hurricane center said in an advisory.
“While it is too soon to specify the timing and magnitude of the impacts,” the hurricane center said, “everyone in hurricane-prone areas should ensure that they have their hurricane plan in place.” Florida is bracing for the storm and, on Tuesday as Hurricane Irma strengthened, began ordering an evacuation.
Hurricanes & Insurance
Many homeowners learn the hard way (or the wet way) that their homeowners’ insurance doesn’t cover property damage caused by hurricanes and floods. As the families recovering from Harvey can attest, it takes just a few inches of water to cause comprehensive damage to a home, but a typical homeowner’s policy will not cover it.
Here’s what you need to know about hurricane and insurance coverage:
While standard homeowners insurance policies will cover damage from a hurricanes high winds, they will not cover damage from rising water, as in a flood.
Separate flood insurance will cover the water damage from a hurricane but, unless you live in a designated high-risk flood zone, your lender does not require that you purchase it.
Therefore, for those of you in a zone that’s moderate- or low-risk, you may still benefit greatly from having flood insurance. According to FEMA, almost 25% of all flood insurance claims come from areas with low-to-moderate flood risk. And in the case of Harvey, many of the damaged homes were in those low and moderate risk zones.
No matter what type of zone your home is in, it’s well worth your time –and peace of mind – to speak with a professional about the safety of your home in hurricane season.