As hurricane season unfolds, it is important for Pensacola homeowners to know what coverage you have in place before a storm forms in the Gulf of Mexico. When storms are heading towards land, most insurance companies stop selling new policies or won't allow coverage increases — or both. That's why it is important to evaluate the insurance coverage you already have in place for your home and/or business before a storm enters the Gulf.
Most Standard Homeowners' Policies Do Not Cover Flood Damage
A typical homeowners insurance policy does not cover damage from flood or other surface water, including storm surge. With our close proximity to the Gulf in Pensacola, you will need a separate flood insurance policy, available from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). NFIP policies have a 30-day waiting period before coverage becomes effective. If you have been told that you do not need flood coverage, consider this: some insurance policies define flood as "water flowing across your property." A heavy rain could potentially cause flood damage that would not be recoverable under your homeowner's policy. Even if you don't live in a low lying area or near a water source, it is a good idea to consider flood coverage. Find more information about the NFIP program and Flood Insurance at www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program.
Coverage For Temporary Living Expenses
Standard homeowners policies include additional living expenses coverage (ALE). ALE pays for costs you incur when you can't live in your home due to damage caused by a severe storm. These expenses include reasonable hotel bills, meals, and other expenses beyond what you would otherwise pay while your home is being rebuilt. You should review your policy to see how much coverage you have, i.e., what is the limit of this coverage, and how long it will be in effect. You can learn more about ALE here.
Coverage For Personal Property
Your homeowners or rental policy provides coverage for your belongings, but it might not be a sufficient amount for the value of your belongings. Review your policy to see how much coverage you have for your personal property. If you have made recent purchases like furniture, appliances, and electronics, you should verify that your contents policy will provide comparable compensation for the value of these items. You may also consider a Valuable Personal Property policy. This supplemental policy covers valuable items, such as jewelry, cameras, musical instruments, or fine art. We have put together a free Storm Guide that can help you inventory your personal belongings before a storm strikes.
Why It Pays to Review and Re-Assess Your Coverage Annually
Even if you don't think you need to purchase additional coverage, you should review your homeowner's policy annually. You may need to increase your policy limits if you have made major purchases, completed major renovations, or have not taken rising construction costs into account when estimating the cost to rebuild your home or business. If you have questions about your homeowner's insurance or concerns that you may need additional coverage, contact our experienced hurricane claim attorneys for a free consultation with an attorney to review your insurance policy.