Six things you may not know about storm insurance

Homeowners can buy more coverage before an official hurricane warning.
Homeowners can buy more coverage before an official hurricane warning.

Many homeowners probably reviewed their property insurance against storm damage last week when initial forecasts for Tropical Storm Erica put her on course to hit Florida as a hurricane.

Proper homeowner preparation for a hurricane, of course, includes insuring for both wind damage and flood damage, making a list of valuable possessions and protecting insurance policies and other documents.

Here are six more things even well prepared homeowners might not know about hurricane-related insurance:

1. Insurance companies might reduce payments on claims if a policyholder failed to install hurricane shutters. Such shutters are required for all windows to ensure full coverage, unless the windows have storm-rated impact glass.

2. If a swimming pool overflows during a storm and water enters a residence, flood insurance will not cover damages to the residence, with one exception: If the pool overflow was part of a bigger inundation that affected an adjacent property, a claim may be valid.

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3. Some homeowners mistakenly believe that storm damage to a car parked inside a garage would force them to make a claim on their homeowner insurance policy. But auto insurance covers the car no matter where it is.

4. Homeowner’s policies can have two types of extra coverage that limit out-of-pocket rebuilding costs after a storm. One type covers reconstruction costs to comply with changes to building codes changes since the original construction of tthe home. (Look for a section of the policy called “law coverage” or “building ordinance coverage.”) The other type is called an inflation guard endorsement, which protects the policyholder against surging construction costs due to a post-storm scarcity of materials and labor.

5. Policyholders can make changes to their homeowner insurance until the an official hurricane warning is issued by the National Weather Service. Some companies will sell extra coverage even if the policyholder resides in an area in the apparent path of a hurricane. Changes to flood insurance require a 30-day waiting period, though.

6. Insurance companies will pay for damage to a home caused by a fallen tree on a neighbor’s property. [Sun-Sentinel] – Mike Seemuth