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Hurricane Insurance

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Well, now that Hurricane Irene has drawn your attention, let’s talk “hurricane insurance. “

Odds are you’re likely covered by your current property insurance policy, whether it’s renters insurance, landlords or a homeowner’s insurance policy.

Basically, if you live in an area of the country where these types of storms aren’t the norm, insurers are willing to insure against that cause of property loss. They don’t expect to get creamed every other year to the tune of a billion or so dollars.

Where Am I Not Covered?

Opposite of the example above, if you live in an area with a high probability of hurricanes, there may be some exclusions or restrictions on your home insurance policy for hurricane coverage.

OK, so you’re on the Gulf Coast or the Eastern Seaboard. You are probably intimately aware of the coverage included (or excluded) on your property insurance. Knowing the details may be the difference between a rebuilt home and financial ruin at the hands of a particularly nasty hurricane.

Some insurers simply refuse to offer property coverage in “tiers” closest to the coast. A tier is a line on a map that measures certain distances in linear miles from the coast. The lower the tier number, the higher the statistical odds your property will be damaged by a hurricane.

This means you cannot purchase a property policy from these insurers at any cost. They simply aren’t willing to take the risk.

Other insurers will offer the coverage, but as discussed above, may restrict the policy language to not covering losses by hurricane, also referred to as a windstorm (Tornadoes are also a form of windstorm).

How can this possibly work? Are you just out of luck? Not exactly.

Coverage Options on the Coast

The options for coverage on the coast or even in the first couple of tiers are pretty cut and dry…and are expensive if you didn’t catch on to that already.

If you do your research and legwork, you’ll likely find a carrier that will insure your home, with hurricane wind coverage, all on one policy. It would be the same as any other homeowner’s policy in the same state, just more expensive.

(How to save money on homeowners insurance.)

In Texas, there is a windstorm pool insurance program. Similar to an auto insurance assigned risk pool, this is a program that will insure just about anybody on the coast.

So you may purchase one policy to cover your property against the “basics,” and another policy specifically for potential wind damage from a hurricane.

This is not unlike the need to purchase flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program. For some of us, it is simply necessary to have more than one policy to protect our property.

The Flood Factor

If you didn’t catch that, a hurricane policy is not a flood insurance policy. Don’t assume because you’re covered against a hurricane that you can’t still suffer property value loss at the hands of the ensuing water that normally accompanies these types of storm.

Again, the hurricane coverage is designed to protect you against property loss from the wind associated with the storm. Not the water.

As you can see, getting the right coverage to protect you against the perils of a hurricane can be tricky, so contact a local independent insurance agent and get some quotes.

An agent who offers services in any of these areas should be an expert in the coverage (or gaps) that exists on the policies they offer.

Read more: Top 10 homeowners insurance companies.

(photo: born1945)

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