10 Tips for Dealing With Hurricane Damage Insurance Claims
Hurricanes cause extensive damage. Unfortunately, your insurance may not cover all of this damage.
You buy home insurance to protect your home. However, a standard policy could leave you with much less compensation than you expect after a loss – even if you have a good insurance company.
It’s okay that you’re not a hurricane insurance claim expect. Here are 10 tips to help.
Home Insurance Doesn’t Cover Flooding
A significant amount of hurricane damage occurs from flooding. However, a standard home insurance policy does not cover flooding.
A standard home insurance policy covers:
- Wind damage
- Wind-driven rain (water that enters your home because of wind)
- Water damage caused by leaks, holes, roof damage, broken windows, and wall damage
However, home insurance does not cover damage caused by water rising up into your home. As floodwaters rise after a hurricane, it could leave your basement and first floor soaked with water. Unfortunately, home insurance doesn’t cover this damage.
With most hurricanes, including Hurricane Harvey in Houston, the most significant damage occurred due to flooding. Homeowners were only covered if they had flood insurance.
You Can Buy Flood Insurance From the Government or Specialty Insurers
A standard home insurance policy does not cover damage caused by flooding after a hurricane (or any other type of flooding).
However, you can buy specialty flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance program or from a specialty insurer.
Because insurers refused to cover homes in flood-prone areas, the government stepped in. Today, homeowners in flood-prone areas can buy coverage through FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program.
NFIP coverage works similar to a standard insurance policy: if rising floodwaters damage your home, then you make a claim.
Auto Insurance Covers Vehicle Damage After Flooding
All vehicle damage after a loss is covered by your auto insurance policy – not your home insurance policy.
Even if your vehicle was parked in your garage during a hurricane and suffered water damage, you make a claim through your auto insurance policy.
A standard auto insurance policy with comprehensive coverage (part of a full coverage plan) covers water damage, fire damage, and other environmental damage.
Although a home insurance policy does not cover flood damage, a car insurance policy with comprehensive coverage will come with flood coverage.
Whether your car is damaged by a flood or wind, your insurer will cover the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle, minus your deductible.
Take Photos and Videos Immediately After a Loss
Once it’s safe, take photos or videos of the hurricane damage immediately after the loss.
Your insurance company requires you to implement basic steps to protect your home after a hurricane. You must put up tarps if safe to do so, for example, to prevent more water from entering your home. You cannot simply let water pour into your home after a hurricane tore a hole in your roof and expect more compensation for damage that could have been prevented.
The more photos and videos you have of the damages, the easier your claim will be.
Insurance Covers Certain Living Expenses After a Hurricane
Many homeowners are forced to flee their homes after a hurricane. If your home is damaged and unlivable after a hurricane, then your insurance should cover hotels, meals, and other living expenses after the loss.
A standard home insurance policy covers additional living expenses (ALE). If your home burns down and you need a place to stay, your home insurance policy covers the cost of getting a hotel, buying replacement clothing, and dining out, among other emergency expenses.
After a hurricane damages your home, track your receipts and expenses. Your insurer may reimburse you for everything.
Hurricane Claims May Have Higher Deductibles
In recent years, insurers have quietly added higher deductibles for certain types of severe weather events.
Instead of paying a deductible of $1,000 to $2,000 for hurricane damage, you might pay a deductible based on a percentage – typically 5% to 10% of the damage.
If a hurricane causes $50,000 of damage to your home, for example, then your insurer may require a deductible of $2,500 to $5,000 to complete the claim.
Check your insurance policy to verify your deductible requirements. Many policies have higher deductibles for wind damage, which is why hurricane claims can have particularly high deductibles.
You May Receive Additional Compensation from the Government
The state and federal government and non-profit organizations may provide additional assistance to hurricane-struck regions – particularly after a major disaster.
Just type your address into DisasterAssistance.gov to see if you qualify for emergency housing, medical aid, or financial assistance.
This money is designed to help people like you who lost property or injured themselves in an emergency.
You May Be Eligible for a Low-Interest SBA Loan to Rebuild or Repair Your Property
After an emergency, the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) provides low-interest loans to help people repair or replace damaged property.
You can request these loans even if you’re not a business owner. The loans are available to:
- Small businesses
- Non-profit organizations
You Can’t Adjust Insurance Coverage After a Hurricane is Named
Insurance companies prevent you from adjusting your policy when a disaster is approaching.
Otherwise, many homeowners would increase coverage when hurricanes approach, then reduce coverage at other times of the year.
For hurricanes, most insurers prevent you from adjusting your policy, changing your coverage, or adding new coverage after a hurricane has been named. You can still change your policy, but changes won’t take effect until after the hurricane strikes.
Understand How Insurance Covers Fallen Trees
Hurricanes can leave many fallen trees in their wake. Fallen tree insurance claims can seem messy, but they’re straightforward:
- If a tree falls onto your property, then you file a claim with your own insurance company, regardless of whether it was your own tree or a neighbor’s tree
- If a tree falls from your property into your neighbor’s yard, then your neighbor files a claim with their own insurance company
- Insurance should cover the cost of repairing any damage caused by a fallen tree, up to the limits of your policy
- If a fallen tree did not damage anything, then insurance could still pay $500 to $1,000 to cleanup the tree (or, some insurers pay nothing)
Final Word On Hurricane Insurance Claims
Homeowners aren’t hurricane claim experts – and that’s okay.
By researching your policy, verifying your coverage, and understanding your options before a hurricane strikes, you can protect your biggest investment from a serious natural disaster.
For expert hurricane insurance claim assistance, contact ClaimsMate today and get a free consultation with a public adjuster.
ClaimsMate’s public adjusters have firsthand experience solving tricky hurricane insurance claims for clients, helping clients maximize compensation.