Tips to avoid a coverage surprise:
- If you own the home, verify its replacement cost. Replacement cost is the amount it takes to rebuild the house using similar materials. Compare this figure to the policy's dwelling limit, and increase coverage as needed. Choosing a limit below replacement cost could mean a reduced settlement.
- Homeowners, renters, and condominium owners should have a room-by-room personal property inventory to determine contents insurance needs. Compare the total value of your belongings to the policy's contents coverage limit. Talk to a homeowners insurance agent about the best way to cover unique and high-value items. Store the inventory in a safe deposit box and update it periodically.
- Be familiar with the insurance contract. Make certain identifying information is accurate. Note the deductible. Check coverages, exclusions, limitations, conditions, and loss settlement terms. Verify what is and isn't covered. Most insurers offer a variety of policy add-ons to broaden coverage for an additional cost. Examples include dwelling extended replacement cost, contents replacement cost, scheduled personal article floater, refreigerated products, inflation guard, home business, and more.
- Torrential rain may cause water to back up in the sewer line or overflow the sump pump pit. This type of loss is excluded unless the policy has an endorsement for sewer back up and sump pump overflow coverage.
- Flood is another water situation that causes major property loss. Homeowners policies do not cover flood damage. Insurance for flood-related damage is available by purchasing a separate, stand-alone flood policy. Ask a homeowenrs insurance agent for cost and coverage specifics.
- Be familiar with the claim process. Settlement options and policyholder duties are outlined in the insurance policy.
Carefully examine your property after a severe weather event. Report storm damage to the insurer as soon as possible. Make temporary repairs to prevent more damage. Save receipts for materials and submit them to the insurance company for reimbursement. Be prepared to provide a list of damaged personal property. Do not throw anything away until the adjuster has seen the damage and approved.
Fallen tree limbs, blowing debris, hail, and flood waters damage vehicles too. Homeowners are rarely liable for damage to another person's car from fallen trees or limbs. Storms are 'Acts of God' and do not involve negligence. An auto insurance policy with comprehensive coverage pays for vehicle damage from weather-related loss. Although comprehensive is optional, most lenders require it. Verify which vehicles have comprehensive coverage and how much you pay out-of-pocket when a claim occurs. A liability-only policy does not cover repairs to your car.