Hurricane Insurance: What Goes Wrong?
Along with the difficult task of dealing with a storm, there comes a cleanup period after a hurricane where families have to be ready to assess the damage it has caused. Homeowners may return home after evacuation to roof damage, broken windows or even massive home structural damage. On top of the visible damage, there may also be infrastructure damage like gas leaks and electrical problems.
All of this cleanup becomes even more complicated when you bring insurance into the picture, and what your insurance provider is and isn’t responsible for. Here we will go over some of the things that go wrong in the aftermath of a hurricane, especially in regards to what your insurance policy covers.
Policies and Insurers
A lot of the complications around hurricane insurance comes from a misunderstanding from policy holders that hurricane insurance will cover ALL damage done by a hurricane, however most times this is not at all true. On top of that some are exposed to higher, unexpected costs from repairs, transportation and alternative living accomodations. Insurance companies can dispute or deny claims, preventing you from moving on with life after a crushing storm.
Policy holders are advised to document before and after damage occurs, as well as contact their insurance providers as soon as they possibly can after a hurricane. You should remember that insurance companies are operating a business, and they are trying to solve your claim without paying more than is necessary. However true this may be, this is why insurance laws for contracts exist for the customer- protection. If an insurance company should deny or dispute your claim, don’t be afraid to question their ruling, after all you are the one paying for peace of mind and security. Unfair insurance practices aren’t uncommon, but when it comes to your largest asset, your home, fight with all you can to get the help you deserve.
What problems can arise?
The detail and language that some policies have can lead to confusion and misunderstandings. These result in claims being denied or investigated, and leave you without help. Delays in the process mixed with convoluted information and rotating insurance adjusters make for a frustrating situation. Some of the reasons insurance companies question insurance claims are because of the strict regulations placed on hurricane insurance and flood insurance.
Some who live near the coast run into the issue of whether the storm surge caused water damage to their home. Some claim adjusters may argue that by the time the water from the storm surge washed away your home, it was already damaged from heavy winds. An idea that is a positive for some policy holders considering that wind and wind-driven rain damage is already covered under most standard home insurance policies.
Exclusions in some home insurance policies can leave you without high wind damage coverage, however if you weren’t made aware of the exclusion before the hurricane hit then you can argue it was an unenforceable exclusion.
The time that a hurricane makes landfall can also cause problems with insurance companies, as storms without the title “Hurricane ______” will not receive the same amount of coverage even if they are reduced right before landfall. An insurance policy may cover a named storm (such as Tropical Storm _______), however that is not always guaranteed. Even if a storm causes the same amount of damage that a hurricane would, it doesn’t mean that insurance companies are willing to pay for the damages, a situation seen in those with damage from Superstorm Sandy.
Flooding or damages seen after a hurricane or storm hits may also not be covered, and may cause complications with filing your insurance claim. Insurance companies claim that because the damage came from an ensuing flood, coverage will not occur.
Some insurance companies will only pay for the policy where the most damage occurred, so if X amount of damage occurred for “Hurricane ________” and >X amount of damage occurred for flooding, the company would only pay the >X amount, not the combined total.
And even if the two events were occurring concurrently, if one insured event like wind is happening at the same time as a flood which isn’t covered, then neither is covered. Someone would be able to escape this if a home was first destroyed by wind and then subsequently flooded, considering the flood doesn’t cause more damage.
Don’t get trapped by insurance companies, know your policy before a hurricane strikes.