The 2021 hurricane season is off to a powerful start, already causing billions of dollars worth of damage up and down the East Coast. And just days after Hurricane Ida thrashed parts of the Northeast, Hurricane Larry threatened to strike the region again with flash flooding and tornadoes.
Since these storms are impacting regions that don't typically experience hurricanes, residents in these areas may not be prepared to deal with the aftermath of storm damage — and they may not be properly insured, either.
Keep reading to learn how homeowners insurance policies cover hurricane damage. If you need a new insurance policy to protect your house, condo or apartment, visit Credible to compare quotes for free.
Does homeowners insurance cover hurricane damage?
A standard homeowners insurance policy typically does not cover all types of hurricane damage, particularly when it comes to water damage.
It may be imperative to purchase a separate flood insurance policy if you live in an area that's susceptible to storm surges. Many lenders require flood insurance for homeowners who live in a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood zone.
Still, only 12% to 15% of Americans have flood insurance, Barry said.
If you want to add flood insurance to renters insurance or a standard home insurance policy, make sure your carrier offers coverage through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). You can also find an NFIP-accredited flood insurance provider on the FEMA website.
Those who live in a state that's frequently impacted by hurricanes and other natural disasters, such as Florida or Louisiana, may also want to look into getting separate hail or windstorm insurance. Plus, additional personal property coverage ensures you won't be stuck paying the full replacement cost for your personal possessions.
Contact your insurance carrier to see what your existing policy covers. If you're not happy with your current coverage, you can browse more comprehensive homeowners insurance policies on Credible.
Auto insurance may cover hurricane damage to your car
Hurricanes can lead to hail damage, fallen trees and flooded vehicles. Thankfully, though, the vast majority of insured drivers opt to buy comprehensive car insurance — which covers all types of perils.
"On the upside, nearly 4 out of 5 flooded vehicles are going to be covered," Barry said.
Keep in mind that your auto insurance premiums may rise if you file a claim. Barry advises drivers to get in touch with their auto insurer if their premiums rise after filing a claim.
"They want to keep you as a customer, they know it’s a competitive marketplace," Barry said. "If there were to be an increase that the policyholder was not pleased with, there’s a lot of competition out there."
What to do if you've been impacted by a storm
While extreme weather can be unpredictable, it's important to know if you live in an area that's impacted by adverse weather and what your insurance covers. Prepare in advance for hurricane season by keeping up with hurricane watch and warning updates on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website.
If it's too late to prepare and you've already been impacted by a hurricane, follow these steps:
- First, get to safety. Flood damage can wear at your home's foundation, putting its structural integrity in jeopardy. Over time, standing water can lead to harmful mold, which requires expensive remediation.
- Reach out to your insurance carrier. Take detailed notes and pictures of the damage to your personal belongings and your property as a whole. Be sure to keep receipts for any storm-related costs to send to the adjuster, so you can get compensation.
- Apply for financial assistance through FEMA. If you've been impacted by flooding caused by a natural disaster but you don't have the proper insurance, you may be eligible for federal aid to cover additional living expenses. Visit www.disasterassistance.gov to apply for all types of financial aid to help with housing, employment, medical bills, legal expenses and food.
Now is the time to prepare for the current hurricane season. You can find the right homeowners and auto insurance policies for your needs by shopping around on Credible. It's free to compare quotes across multiple insurance companies in just minutes.
Have a finance-related question, but don't know who to ask? Email The Credible Money Expert at email@example.com and your question might be answered by Credible in our Money Expert column.