No homeowner likes to think about damage to their home and property from natural disasters like hurricanes. But it happens. And the effects have the potential to be catastrophic.
Horry County and the surrounding areas are in a region prone to hurricanes. Most likely, you, as a homeowner, have certain plans in place in case of an emergency. But do you know what kinds of insurance you may need to provide the coverage needed for the kinds of damage a hurricane can create?
Become familiar with your policy. Read it and then call your insurance agent. Take the time to understand the limits, deductibles and replacement coverage provided in your policy. It's better to do this now than wait until a storm does actual damage to your home.
Made any changes to your home recently, like a roof replacement or added shutters? You'll want to tell your agent because it could affect your coverage or costs. Also make sure to ask if your insurance policy covers additional living expenses like hotel stays or restaurant bills if you can't live in your home while it's being repaired. If nothing else, insure your home for what it would cost to rebuild it, not the market value of the home.
Looking to save some money while still providing ample coverage for your home in case of a natural disaster? There are a few ways to lighten the costs.
Know your deductible. Deductibles can come in two varieties. They may be in the traditional dollar amounts or a percentage of your home's insured value. Keep in mind that the higher your deductible is, the lower your premium will be.
There may also be discounts and incentives available to you. Your insurance agent will know of any price incentives available to you that the company and the state provides. No discounts available? Remember, you can take a higher deductible to lower costs slightly.
Is your home in a flood prone area? You may need to invest in additional insurance to protect against the risk of flood damage. You can purchase coverage to help protect your home, your personal belongings, or both, depending on the insurance provider.
Building property coverage protects the physical structure of your home and its foundation, the plumbing and electrical systems, and the central air and heating systems. Personal contents coverage protects your clothing, furniture and electronics, curtains, freezers and the food within them, and certain valuable items.
It is important to also know what is not covered by flood insurance. Under a basic flood insurance policy, these expenses are not covered:
Moisture and mildew/mold damage that could have been avoided
Currency, precious metals and paper valuables
Outdoor property such as decks, patios, fencing, landscaping, septic systems, pools and hot tubs
Living expenses such as temporary housing
Cars and other self-propelled vehicles
But don't worry, homeowner! There are ways to protect the items listed above. Want to protect your car or boat from hurricane damage. Your auto policy can cover hurricane damage, under the comprehensive portion. This also includes any possible flooding. As for your boat, you'll need to get a separate marine policy.
What about those collectibles and jewelry that have been in the family for years? These items will require coverage under a separate rider to your policy. Make sure to ask your agent if you need to get the items appraised or if simple photos and receipts will suffice.
The key is to be prepared now so that, if disaster strikes, you and your family will be protected. Inventory your property. Take photos of your home and its contents. Back up important information and documents on a flash drive. Make sure you have your homeowners and flood insurance policy numbers readily available. Don't wait until the last minute to understand your coverage. Once a storm is within a certain distance, or a hurricane watch or warning has been issued, you will not be able to change your existing coverage or get a new insurance policy.