Hurricane season begins on June 1st.
Baltimore, Md (KM). With no rain in the forecast for the next few days, this may be a good opportunity to review your homeowners’ policy, to find out what it covers and doesn’t cover. That reminder comes from the Maryland Insurance Administration. Joy Hatchette, Associate Commissioner for Consumer Education and Advocacy, says you can do that by reading over the policy’s declarations. “And that’s going to tell you what things your policy covers. It’s also going to tell what your deductible is. It’s important to know all of that before any event happens,” she says.
“The time to find out that you have two, three or 4,000 deductible is not when you need a claim,” says Hatchette.”You need to find that out up front.”
Hurricane season officially begins on June 1st, and lasts through November 30tth. Severe summer storms, even those which are not hurricanes, can produce tornadoes and flash flooding.
With the talk of flooding, the Maryland Insurance Administration says it may be a good idea to purchase flood insurance, even if you don’t live near a body of water, such as a river or stream, or in a flood plain. “So the last time we had a heavy rain, did water actually either flood your home; or did it move toward your home different than it did in the past,” asks Hatchette. “If there’s been any sort of work that’s been done in your neighborhood that has changed the flow of water, or there have been trees that have been removed, you could feasibly have water on hour property which could seep into your home. And that’s going to be excluded under your homeowners’ policy.”
Flood damage insurance is not covered standard insurance policies. The National Flood Insurance Program and some private insurers offer policies covering flood damage. There’s usually a 30-day waiting period before the new policies take affect. Call 1-888-379-9531 or go on line to www.floodsmart.gov for more information.
Hatchette says you also need to check your homeowners’ policy to see if it covers water and sewer backups. “Insurance companies have to offer that coverage. And you have to say ‘yes, I want it.’ And then you pay a separate premium for that,” she says.
If your home is damaged during a storm, the Maryland Insurance Administration says you should call your insurance company as soon as possible. A company representative will come out and survey the damage. “Take pictures of the damage so that they can see what the situation is before you go out,” Hatchette says.
When it comes time to repair your house, the Maryland Insurance Administration recommends you contact contractors who are licensed by the Maryland Home Improvement Commission. In addition, get three estimates before you allow any contractor to work on your home.
For more information, you can go to the Maryland Insurance Administration website at www.insurance.maryland.gov/Consumer/Pages.
By Kevin McManus