Statistics from the National Weather Service report total property damage from weather events in 2013 at $8.8 billion, down from $32.8 billion in 2012 and $20 billion in 2011. July brought the most weather—related deaths for the past two years with 103 in 2013 and 156 in 2012, mostly related to tornadoes and extreme heat. Weather patterns are constantly changing, and although we cannot predict what the future holds, we need to protect our loved ones and property as much as possible. Below are tips to consider to prepare for storm season.
Know what your insurance covers—don’t be caught without adequate coverage. Check your policy to see what’s covered and the expenses you’ll be expected to pay. While most policies provide coverage for windstorm damage, you will be responsible for a deductible and it’s often one percent or more of your home’s value, which could be substantial. Wind and hail deductibles may be even larger than the deductible for other claims. In some cases, older roofs may be excluded or have coverage restrictions, reducing the amount of recovery you can seek from your insurance policy.
Automobile policies provide coverage for wind and hail through the comprehensive or “other than collision” coverage option you can purchase. A deductible also applies to this coverage.
As storms can affect many people at the same time, you may be one of thousands seeking repairs for damage simultaneously. When damage to your home or automobile is severe, you may need to seek a replacement while waiting for your repairs to be completed. Most homeowners policies will provide “additional living expenses” so you can seek shelter in a hotel until your home is repaired. There is, however, a limit to this coverage. Usually, it’s a percentage of your home’s insured value.
If you have elected to purchase rental reimbursement on your automobile policy, you will be allowed a dollar amount per day for a certain number of days to rent a car while your car’s covered damage is being repaired.
Remember that flood damage is only covered by a flood policy. Storms often bring the potential for flooding. When a hurricane causes flooding from a storm surge, your homeowners policy will not cover the damage from flooding, so seek protection with a National Flood Insurance Program policy.
Water damage to your automobile can be covered under most insurance policies providing comprehensive or “other than collision” coverage.
Schedule a meeting with your insurance professional to thoroughly review your current insurance protection. In addition to understanding your insurance policy, here are additional measures to consider. When possible, park your car in a garage or shelter. Clean up debris and secure outside items that could become flying missiles in high winds. Back up computer records and store the back-up in a secure place. Consider keeping duplicates. Gather important papers, including deeds, titles, inventory lists and insurance information and store them in a waterproof environment. Keep electronic copies as well. Know your community’s evacuation plan and when the authorities ask – evacuate! The next time you replace your roof or windows, consider using materials that are designed to withstand high winds or are impact resistant. Most importantly, always keep your family and pets safe from the elements of weather!
Compiled by Carol Troy, chief operating officer and manager of IBAT Financial Services, a subsidiary of the Independent Bankers Association of Texas and a public service provided by the Independent Bankers Association of Texas (IBAT) and the IBAT Education Foundation.