Are you prepared if disaster strikes? One in 10 U.S. homes were impacted by natural disasters in 2021, according to CoreLogic. That’s 14.5 million single and multifamily homes suffering an estimated $56.92 billion in property damage in just one year. While we’d all like 2021 to be a record-breaking outlier in the realm of natural disasters, most experts agree that as the world’s climate changes natural disasters are becoming more likely and possibly severe. While there isn’t anything you can do to prevent natural disasters, a solid set of insurance policies can help you recover from disaster quickly. So, how do you know if you have the right insurance for natural disasters? Below, we outline the right insurance coverage and precautionary measures that can help protect you in the event of a natural disaster.
Understand your Current Policy Coverage
Being prepared for a natural disaster means knowing what your insurance covers—and what it does not. Insurance policies have strict limits around how much they will reimburse you for what events and for what (or who) was damaged. Some key things to consider within your disaster preparedness include:
1) Do you know what is covered under what insurance policy?
Different insurance policies cover different assets and damage. If a tornado sweeps away your garage and your car along with it, your homeowner’s policy will likely cover the costs to rebuild the garage. But you’ll have to look to your auto insurance policy to see if hail damage, wind damage, and rain damage to your car are part of your policy. If you happened to leave your laptop in your car, you’d again need to look to your homeowner’s policy. Health benefits will cover the costs of injuries in a disaster, but you’ll need disability insurance to reimburse you for your salary if you’re out of work due to an injury.
2) Are your coverage limits too low?
When you look at the limits to your homeowner’s insurance, truly consider how much it would cost to rebuild your house, or even to conduct several major repairs at once like building a new roof and remediating water damage to several bedrooms or an entire floor. You might consider getting a contractor to give you an estimate every few years so you can remain up to date. Your limit should cover the worst-case scenario, while your savings can cover any deductible.
You should also consider whether your policy covers replacement costs for contents or reimburses you for the item’s market value. If a 10-year-old sofa gets smoke damage, replacement coverage would provide enough money to buy a new sofa; market value would only cover the amount your sofa could have sold for. This can really affect how high your limits should be and whether you need excess coverage.
3) Do you know all the contents of your house?
For most insurance policies, you have to name the specific items in your house that require reimbursement on a claim. So one of the best pieces of pre-disaster advice is to do a home inventory. Home inventories itemize your belongings, helping you understand whether your policy’s limits fully cover the cost of your possessions or whether you should expand your coverage. They also serve as proof that you incurred a loss and can help you make a claim more quickly and easily after a disaster.
4) Do you have insurance coverage for injuries?
Most people focus on property loss when they think about insuring against natural disasters, but injuries to yourself or others on your property can be just as devastating. Most homeowner’s policies and auto insurance include liability coverage that can protect you from lawsuits due to bodily injury or property damage. So if a guest or worker gets hit by a falling branch during a sudden windstorm, you are protected.
If you are injured during a disaster, you might be out of work for weeks, months, or permanently. Disability insurance will protect you from the loss of earnings in this event. Life insurance can similarly protect your family from financial insecurity if your primary earner loses their life in a disaster.
5) When did you last update your insurance policy?
To make sure that your insurance adequately covers your home and contents, you need to keep it updated. Often homeowners simply renew their policies without indicating any remodeling, new furniture or appliances, or other home improvements. If it isn’t reflected in the policy, it might not be covered or your limits might not be high enough. Local laws or ordinances might also have changed since you took out your policy, adding significant costs or redesigns to your home.
6) What disasters does your insurance cover?
Standard homeowners’ policies often will cover the cost to replace your home and contents up to half the value of the structure in the event of lightning strikes, fire, wind damage, and issues secondary to natural disasters like power failures and government actions. However, flooding is rarely covered, and policies in areas prone to windstorms (tornadoes and hurricanes) or earthquakes might exclude these events from coverage. It’s important to read what is excluded from your policy and consider whether you need to purchase specialized insurance.
Specialized Insurance Covering Disasters
If you’re particularly worried about natural disasters in your area, you can always turn to specialized types of insurance for natural disasters to provide you with extra peace of mind. Most insurance companies will quote these types of coverage on request, but the higher your risk, the higher the premium.
Hurricane Insurance & Tornado Insurance Coverage
With tornadoes and hurricanes, the most obvious form of property damage comes from high winds. Most homeowners’ policies cover damage to your home, surrounding structures and personal property if they’re damaged by windstorm events. But you may be excluded if you live in a high-risk coastal area or on the mid-western plains. If you are covered, make sure you understand the limits of storm damage to things like hail, broken windows, or structural collapse. Rain and flooding damage are not included.
Flooding is one of the most devasting forms of disasters, which is why it is almost never covered in a standard homeowner’s policy. One inch of flooding can cause $25,000 worth of damage to your home. However, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) managed by FEMA underwrites the cost of flood insurance for people living in 23,000 flood-prone communities. So if you are at a high-risk for flooding, chances are you can obtain insurance at a reasonable price. You can find flood insurance provider in your area through their website.
Earthquakes are generally excluded from homeowners’ policies, and even specialized earthquake insurance does not cover disasters caused by earthquakes like landslides, volcanic eruptions, sinkholes, or tsunamis. If you’re unsure of your area’s risk and whether you need earthquake insurance, you can consult the U.S. Geological Survey to see the latest seismic activity in any area of the country.
Consult an Insurance Service
With all the different types of insurance and how much policies differ from one region to another it can be difficult to know if you have adequate coverage for a natural disaster and are paying a reasonable price. Inter-Agency Insurance services makes insurance easy by creating a coverage plan that is tailored to your specific needs and negotiating with insurance carriers on your behalf. If you’re unsure where the gaps in your insurance coverage might be, contact Inter-Agency Insurance Services by calling (865)637-4519, visit inter-agencyinsurance.com or request your personalized quote for free today!