Are All Disasters Covered By Your Insurance?

 

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Standard homeowners policies generally cover a wide range of potential disasters, from tornadoes and windstorms, to fire and lightning strikes, to winter storm damage caused by weight of ice and snow. Most homeowners policies cover all the disasters listed below. Some policies provide coverage only for the first 10 listed. It is important to check check your insurance policy for the specific perils covered.

Floods

Flood damage is excluded under standard homeowners and renters insurance policies. Flood coverage, however, is available in the form of a separate policy both from the National Flood Insurance Program - NFIP ( 888-379-9531) and from a few private insurers.

You can get replacement cost coverage for the structure of your home, but only actual cash value coverage is available for your possessions. There may also be limits on coverage for furniture and other possessions stored in your basement.

Flood insurance is available for renters as well as homeowners. You will need flood insurance if you live in a designated flood zone. But also consider buying it if your house could be flooded by melting snow, an overflowing creek or water running down a steep hill. Don’t wait until the evening news announces a flood season warning to buy a policy. There is a 30-day waiting period before federal flood coverage takes effect.

Hurricanes

Hurricane deductibles are percentage or dollar deductibles that are higher than for other causes of loss. They are calculated as a percentage of the dollar amount of coverage on the dwelling or as a flat dollar amount like a standard deductible. By Florida statute, the application of hurricane deductibles is triggered by windstorm losses resulting only from a hurricane declared by National Weather Service. Hurricane deductibles apply for damage that occurs from the time a hurricane watch or warning is issued for any part of Florida, up to 72 hours after such a watch or warning ends and anytime hurricane conditions exist throughout the state.

Hurricane deductibles and their triggers are set by law and are the same for the private, or regular market, as well as Florida’s Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (CPIC), the state-run program which provides property insurance to consumers. The hurricane deductible applies only once during a hurricane season. All insurers must offer a hurricane deductible of $500, 2 percent, 5 percent and 10 percent of the policy dwelling or structure limits. The percentages are based on the total value of the home (e.g., a 10 percent hurricane deductible on a $200,000 home would be $20,000). In some cases a deductible of more than 10 percent is permissible. For example, for homes that are insured for less than $500,000, the deductible can be higher than 10 percent if the homeowner states the dollar value of the deductible in a letter to the insurer. The deductible must be stated in the policy as a dollar amount regardless of the percentage.

Earthquakes

Earthquake coverage can be a separate policy or an endorsement to your homeowners or renters policy. It available from most insurance companies.

Maintenance damage

It is your responsibility to take reasonable precautions to protect your home from damage. Your insurance policy will not cover damage due to lack of maintenance, mold, termite infestation and infestation from other pests.

Sewer back-up

Sewer backups or the inability of sump pumps to handle runoff water from major downpours are not covered under a typical homeowners insurance policy, nor are they covered by flood insurance. Those types of coverage must be purchased either as a separate product or as an endorsement to a homeowners policy.”

Sewer backup coverage is available from most insurers for a nominal cost—usually an additional annual premium of $40-$50.

Many homeowners may not realize that they are responsible for the maintenance and repair of their house or sewer lateral—the pipeline between the city sanitary sewer main, usually located in the street—and the building. The sewer lateral is owned and maintained by the property owner including any part that extends into the street or public right of way.

Sewer backups are also a sign of cast iron pipe damage. Learn more about this potentially dangerous problem here.

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