Wind, Rain, Hail, OH MY! Does my home insurance cover hurricanes? I have hail damage to my car, now what? Does my insurance cover a flood in my basement? A severe storm caused widespread power outages so my business was shut down for a week; will my insurance pay for lost business during a power outage?
Hurricane season is upon us! You should know what is covered by your insurance policy before the severe weather comes our way. Lots of people question whether or not they are protected by insurance if a hurricane approaches their town. The bad news is that most policies do not mention the word “Hurricane Insurance”. The good news is you probably still have coverage for most hurricane damage. Your policies may cover the destruction caused by wind, wind blown debris, falling trees, power outages, hail, and certain types of water damage.
Wind is usually the first sign a hurricane is brewing. Hold onto your hats! A category one hurricane produces winds between 74-95 mph! And that’s just a category one! Wind is covered on your homeowner’s insurance policy, subject to the dwelling limit on your policy if your home is damaged. The same is true for your business insurance, subject to your building/property limit. If your car blows away or blows over (we’re thinking it will take a little more than a category one storm for this to happen, but who knows) your car insurance policy will cover damages only if you have comprehensive coverage (also known as Other Than Collision coverage) on your vehicle.
A category two hurricane produces winds between 96-110 mph! At this point well constructed homes could sustain major roof and siding damage. You may even see household objects from your neighbor’s house, blowing through your front door or window. Wind blown debris, whether it’s a tree root, a shingle, or your friend’s car (see paragraph above), can cause damage to your property. These instances are covered just like that above (on your home, business, and car insurance subject to your dwelling limit, property limit, and comprehensive coverage respectively).
With a category two hurricane, near total power loss is expected and outages could last from several days to weeks. Power outage coverage on your policies need to be purchased as ‘add ons’. With that being said, power outages can be added as endorsements or “riders” to your homeowner’s insurance policy for loss of refrigerated goods. The insurance company will reimburse between $250-$1000 to homeowners for goods lost due to power outages. Business owners can also add endorsements to their policies to cover certain losses that arise from power outages. For example, restaurants, florists, or grocery store owners should consider adding on spoilage coverage. Many businesses may also want to add on coverage for lost income during a shut down caused by power outages; this type of coverage is available with many companies. A word of caution about business insurance and power outages is essential though. Many policies only provide coverage if the power outage originates on your premises (not down the street, at the power station, etc) or is the result of damage to your building. Better policies let you add coverage for power interruption regardless of how or where it originates. Ask your agent about the fine print so you understand in which cases your business insurance will pay you for power outage losses.
Although hail storms don’t normally occur around here, that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen! I don’t know about you, but I would want to be protected if golf-ball-sized objects started falling from the sky! Good news is your home and business insurance will probably cover hail damage. Your car insurance will cover hail too, but only if you have comprehensive coverage on your car.
Sometimes the most damaging effect of a hurricane is the dreadful word… flooding. By flooding, we mean rising tidal water, coastal surges or waves, overflow of lakes or rivers, and ground water accumulating due to poor drainage (including inland areas). It’s a homeowner or business owner’s worst nightmare. Unfortunately, flooding is not covered on a home or business policy. Flood insurance is a separate policy entirely. Those who live close to the water, or who want to be safe rather than sorry, will purchase a flood insurance policy. The only thing you don’t need separate flood insurance for is your car! If your car floats away into Narragansett Bay, better hope you have comprehensive coverage on your auto policy because that will cover your car flood damage.
Severe weather is unfortunately something we have become accustomed to in Rhode Island. Before you run for milk, bread, and batteries at the forecast of the next storm, first take a look at your insurance policies. Better yet, do not wait for the storm to look at your policies, look at them today. Call Loiselle Insurance Agency and we can answer your coverage questions. We want to protect your home, business and car through all seasons and weather! Call us today at (401) 723-8510 to discuss your policy and make sure you have the proper coverage in case a hurricane comes to New England!