Get ahead of the storm: Check your coverage before hurricane season


Posted: April 22, 2019 | Word Count: 376

Hurricanes provide little advance notice of their arrival, and as landfall approaches, insurance companies may temporarily suspend new coverage and coverage changes.

That means it's usually a good idea to review your insurance coverage yearly to make sure it matches your needs.

An insurance representative can review your policy, explain limits and deductibles, and help you identify coverage gaps. "You should ask your representative for tips on hurricane risk mitigation that may lower your insurance premiums and better protect your property," said Tom Woods, assistant vice president of property underwriting for USAA.

The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes and the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety offer numerous suggestions for improving the resiliency of your home during a hurricane.

"Many of these things don't cost a lot of money," Woods said.

During your annual coverage review, consider the following:

* Flooding. Flood insurance, which covers losses from rising water, isn't provided in routine homeowners insurance policies. However, it is available from USAA through the National Flood Insurance Program. Premiums vary depending on how flood-prone the covered property is and how much coverage you desire. Members can use USAA's Property Risk Assessment Tool to see what flood risk their home faces. Typically, flood insurance doesn't become effective until 30 days after purchase.

* Windstorm damage. Windstorm damage is covered with its own deductible in some homeowners insurance policies, and a separate wind policy might be required in some places. Hurricane and windstorm damage in high-risk coastal areas may only be available through a state-managed insurance pool. It too may have a waiting period before coverage begins.

* Temporary living expenses. Review your policy's coverage for temporary living expenses. See how much your policy will pay and how long it will pay after the storm ends.

* High-value personal possessions. Coverage under USAA's Valuable Personal Property policies helps replace a homeowner's costliest possessions, including jewelry and artwork. Typical homeowners policies provide some coverage for those belongings, but it is limited and could keep you from reacquiring the full value of lost items.

* Personal belongings. Renters insurance can cover the loss of renters' personal belongings, which are not covered by the landlord's insurance. Renters can get temporary living expense coverage in their rental policies, and their belongings should be covered if stolen.

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