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Hurricane insurance basics

By Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 30, 1999


Homeowners, mobile homeowners and renters insurance usually covers the following: wind damage; rain damage that is a result of rain entering through a wind-damaged area; theft; vandalism and fire. If these damages occur, the insurance pays for: emergency repairs to prevent further damage; additional living expenses; debris removal; actual cash value or replacement value of the damaged property, depending on the policy.

Flood insurance is sold separately, but usually in conjunction with homeowners, mobile homeowners and renters insurance. It covers damage by these types of water: waves; tidal action; overflowing rivers, creeks or lakes; and groundwater runoff. Also covered by flood insurance are repair or replacement of damaged or destroyed buildings; compensation for damaged or destroyed personal property at its actual cash value; debris removal. Cars damaged by hurricanes are usually covered by the comprehensive section of an auto insurance policy.

Source: Florida Insurance News Service

Are you covered?

Before a hurricane threatens, insurance industry representatives suggest you:

Read your policy to see exactly what coverage you have. If you don't understand, get your agent to explain it.

Find out whether you have "guaranteed replacement cost" insurance -- what it would really cost to replace your home and contents at current value. Or do you have "actual cash value" -- depreciated cost? Does your policy have an automatic "inflation guard" to keep up with current costs?

Be aware that your homeowners policy does not cover flood damage. For this, you must have separate flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program.

Know your insurance carrier and make sure you have phone numbers for the company. Keep your policy in a safe place, and if you have to evacuate, take the policy with you.

If you rent, be aware that your landlord's homeowners insurance does not cover your possessions. You need your own renters insurance.

There's a 30-day waiting period on flood insurance from the time you apply to the day it's effective. If you wait to call your agent until the hurricane warnings go up, it's too late.

Likewise, when a hurricane watch or warning is announced, agents lose their "binding authority" -- their authority to enact insurance policies -- until the watch or warning is canceled.

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