Surviving the Storm
Know what your insurance covers and what it doesn’t—before disaster strikes
The recent onslaught of extreme weather events has taken a swipe at both homeowners and insurance providers. As FHB contributor Fernando Pagés Ruiz points out in this article, it’s important for homeowners to know what insurance coverage they have before disaster strikes. Here, the author focuses on three major types of catastrophe: flooding, extreme wind, and earthquakes. Flood insurance requires a policy purchased separately from a homeowners policy. Floods basically can occur anywhere, although some locations are at higher risk than others. With flood insurance, it’s important to understand that content coverage for personal belongings comes under a separate policy, and such policies generally are restrictive in terms of the areas of a house that can be covered. Insurance policies for homes along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts can include special deductibles for hurricanes. Tornadoes, covered under insurance policies as windstorms, are generally small, narrow events that cause limited losses. While houses can be built strong enough to withstand some tornadoes, almost nothing can withstand an EF5 storm. With tornadoes, the priority is safety (a reinforced safe room or an underground shelter). Earthquakes, which can occur anywhere, most frequently happen in specific geological areas. Earthquake coverage is similar to flood coverage and requires a separate policy. This article includes two sidebars. The first breaks down the language of an insurance policy to help you understand what is covered. The second outlines the steps you can take as a homeowner to reinforce your home against flooding, extreme wind, and earthquakes.