When you buy homeowners insurance, you want the reassurance that your plan will protect you against the costs of numerous hazards that might occur. Since most people cannot prevent severe weather from striking their property, then the damage caused by storms often has coverage on their policy.
However, to assume that your policy covers all types of severe weather is incorrect. Depending on how your policy is written, certain severe weather might not have coverage. Two of the most common and devastating types of weather that might damage your home are high winds and hail. That’s why it is important to closely review your policy to ensure that it contains appropriate coverage for these losses.
Home Insurance Coverage for Storm Damage
You buy home insurance because you want to protect your property and financial assets in case an unexpected, unavoidable hazard occurs on the property. With the assistance of your policy, you will receive funds to repair the resulting property damage so that you won’t have to bear the full brunt of this cost on your own. That way, your own security will be better assured.
Most types of severe weather damage will usually have coverage under homeowners insurance. The policy will usually contain multiple types of coverage to pay for the damage storms cause to different items. These usually are:
- Structure coverage, which will pay for damage to your house itself. The plan will usually pay for the home’s replacement cost value, which is the cost necessary (in today’s dollars) to rebuild the home to the way it was before the claim.
- Detached structures coverage that insures other buildings or construction on your property. For example, the policy might pay when a storm damages a detached carport, fencing, storage shed or similar building, then this coverage can pay for the repairs.
- Possessions coverage will pay when a storm damages your personal possessions. So, if a tree falls on your home during a storm and damages items inside, then this plan will pay for them.
- Loss of use coverage pays after a storm damages the home, and you must leave the home for a while as it undergoes repairs. The plan might pay for hotel bills, dining bills and similar items.
All coverage will contain limits on how much they will pay for losses to different items, and deductibles and other terms might apply. However, you often have the chance to adjust your standard coverage limits to your benefit and add appropriate policy endorsements to increase your benefits.
Since wind and hail damage can often be devastating to your home, you must work with your agent to determine how best to tailor your policy to your advantage. While your policy can be designed to cover the damage caused by wind and hail, you cannot automatically assume that you have this coverage with a basic policy alone.
Consider a few of the reasons why this might occur.
Reason 1: Time Limits Exist
Most insurers require policyholders to report storm damage within a certain time limit. If you do not, then the insurer might refuse to honor your claim. Often, you will have to claim storm damage no more than one year following the event. However, the time limits on these policies are often much shorter.
The reason that most insurers place time limits on claims is that it helps them cut down on the risk of fraud or other unfair claims. The longer you leave damage unclaimed, the harder it will be for the insurer to evaluate the damage and determine if it arose because of a storm. They might also be unable to determine exactly how much to pay you, and they could deny your claim.
Reason 2: Deductibles Apply
When you file a claim on your home insurance for damage, then a deductible will likely apply. A deductible is a cost value that you agree to pay on your own before your insurer pays. The cost of a structural damage claim must exceed the value of the deductible before your plan will pay.
Suppose that your home insurer calculates that a severe storm caused $5,000 in structural damage. Your structure insurance contains a $1,000 deductible. Therefore, you must pay the first $1,000 of repair costs on your own. Your insurer will compensate you for the remaining $4,000. However, if the cost of your structural damage is equal to or less than $1,000, then your policy won’t pay at all because of the deductible.
Reason 3: Some Policies Exclude Wind or Hail Damage
Sometimes, standard home insurance will not cover wind or hail damage at all. For example, in many areas where extremely high winds are frequent events (such as in coastal areas prone to hurricanes) a policy might not automatically cover damage from wind. Therefore, to get this coverage, you might need to add a windstorm endorsement to your policy. This coverage will contain specified terms and limits that will apply to the higher risk you face.
The best way to determine if you need any expanded wind or hail coverage on your home insurance policy is to talk to your agent. We are committed to working with you to determine the best way to structure your plan and optimize your benefits.
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