Protect Yourself and if Necessary Recover Faster from a Weather Disaster

Tim Watters |
With the devastation of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma we thought it was a good idea to review steps that you should take to protect yourself and if necessary recover faster from a disaster.
During a disaster, liquidity is king. It is a good idea to have a few thousand dollars in cash on hand and to make sure that you have extra money in your checking account as well. This way, if you can't get access to your bank for a while, you can buy supplies and if possible pay bills. 
It is important to understand homeowner’s insurance. Most homeowner’s policies have a separate hurricane deductible. A standard homeowner's insurance policy deductible is typically $500 or $1,000. Hurricane deductibles are calculated as a percentage of the insured value of the house. That percentage, along with details about a policy's hurricane deductible, usually appears on the declaration page. States that let insurers tack hurricane deductibles onto homeowner's policies are Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia as well as the District of Columbia. Hurricanedeductibles apply only to damage caused by hurricanes, and typically range from 1 % to 5 % of the insured value of a house, according to the Insurance Information Institute. For example, a policyholder whose house is insured for $200,000 with a 2 % hurricane deductible would have to pay the first $4,000 needed to repair the home if a hurricane caused the damage.
Damage caused by flooding is generally not covered by a standard homeowner’s insurance policy. A flood typically involves external water rising onto the land from an overflowing river, hurricane, tsunami, mudslide or even heavy rains. You may want to consider buying flood insurance. Many people are surprised by the limitations to these policies. For example, they do not cover damage to contents stored in basements. If you buy this coverage, learn about all of the exclusions so you can plan accordingly.
One of the byproducts of water damage is mold and mildew.Besides being potentially hazardous for your health, mold can reduce the value of the house by discoloring the walls and/or ceilings, rotting wood or ductwork, and creating a foul odor. Most basic homeowner’s insurance policies exclude coverage due to damage caused by mold, fungi, and bacteria.
Many homeowners may not realize that they are responsible for the maintenance and repair of the pipeline between the city sewermain, usually located in the street, and their house. Sewagebackup coverage is available from most insurers as a rider to ahomeowner’s insurance policy. It costs very little and should be obtained if your home is connected to a sewer.
Most automobile insurance policies do cover flooding. Most standard automobile policies with collision and comprehensive coverage replace flood damaged cars after the deductible.
It is important to store financial documents such as deeds, title insurance, auto ownership documents, insurance policies and estate planning documents remotely.
Photos and/or videos should be made of the contents of the house and stored electronically. This way, when it comes time to submitting a claim to the insurance company, there will be an accurate record and proof of what was damaged or lost. 
Periodically review life insurance and disability policies. Confirm the beneficiaries. 
Check the title to the house. This is a required part of the application process for a mortgage and it is protection in the event of a claim. Without an accurate title it is difficult to prove ownership or eligibility to submit a claim for insurance benefits or government assistance.
By following these steps, you will be in a better position to weather the storm.
If you have additional questions, please feel free to call my office at 201-843-0044 or check out our website at: