A hurricane hit my house
I am not one of those who live in Never-Never Land. If there is anything that global warming has shown us, it is that things we would not have dreamed of happen, climate-wise now. Hurricane Harvey (which hungrily hit Houston) devoured 30-40,000 homes in 2017. It becomes foolish to think it would never happen to you.
When a hurricane hits
When a hurricane feeds over warm water the effect can be a rise in the sea level causing coastlines to be battered as the storm approaches. As it comes onto shore, the danger of wind damage is exacerbated by flooding caused by the high winds pushing enormous amounts of ocean water onto land. Then, of course, there is the possibility of further damage and flooding caused by the copious amounts of rain that accompany hurricanes.
We have to talk about insurance
Your house is in danger of two things in a hurricane, the wind and water. Hurricane insurance will cover some of the damage but most insurance does not cover flood damage, and of course, it is water that causes most of the disaster.
Getting separate flood insurance is really important. Most are government underwritten, (whereas the insurance companies will underwrite wind damage).
Another thing you need to know is that most insurance companies require a 30-day waiting period before the policy kicks in. With hurricane season in full force, it is not the time to try and get insurance.
Make sure to get and keep insurance up to date well in advance of the hurricane season. Another good thing to understand is what your policies actually mean. What are your deductibles and what is really covered? In effect, you bear some of the risks. Let’s say that your house is valued at $350,000 and you have a 5% deductible, you’re on the hook for the first $17,500 if your house is totaled. Make sure you understand the extent of your liability and look to mitigate it where you can.
It hit – now what?
The first thing to do is document the damage. It makes sense beforehand to walk around the property and take before pictures. This will give you a point of comparison. Once there is damage, take photographs and document the effects immediately. You will forget things if you don’t and when all is said and done, this is what insurance is for.
Next, create an inventory and try and make your house secure. Like the before and after photos, an inventory before will help you keep track of the losses after. Insurance is there to protect you against loss, to put it back as it was before, so ensure you know what was.
If the house in uninhabitable getting a place to stay is obviously an important task, but file your claim as quickly as you can. There are rules on the insurance companies which mean they have to get cash to you quickly, this is a time when you’re going to need access to it, the sooner you make a claim, the faster you will get your money.