By: Stacey Giulianti, co-founder of Florida Peninsula Insurance Company Special to the Boca newspaper
Why is it important to “know your policy”?
One of the most asked questions in the world of homeowner’s insurance is… “Am I covered for this?” If you don’t know the answer for this… you should. While most homeowner policies share some common elements, each company sells a unique policy, with differences that could be critical. The first person to speak to is your agent, as they are in the best position to explain the coverages and exclusions, including deductibles and special limits of your specific homeowners or renter’s policy. Finding out that a loss is not covered, or is limited after a claim occurs can be devastating. Making smart decisions during the shopping process should be a customer’s top priority.
What should you do before filing a claim?
Before filing a claim… find your policy, collect information and documentation on the damages your residence has sustained, take photographs of the damage, and make reasonable attempts to stop further damage from occurring. Make sure that it is safe to achieve those tasks and without causing further damage. The sooner you call in your claim, the more quickly your insurance company can retain an independent adjuster to inspect your damages and file their report.
What are the most common questions about a homeowner’s policy?
The top two most common questions we see are:
Question: Does my homeowner’s policy cover flooding?
Answer: No. Flood, which also includes tidal surge, groundwater, and lakes overflowing, is not covered by the standard homeowner’s policy. Make sure you get a Flood Coverage Endorsement or a stand-alone flood policy.
Question: How does my hurricane deductible work?
Answer: In Florida, your hurricane (or named storm) deductible is typically 2 percent of the coverage A limit of your home. In other words, if your house is insured for $500,000, your hurricane deductible will be $10,000. That means the first $10,000 of damage must be paid by you, and not the insurance company. Some policies have higher deductibles, so carefully check – or ask your agent – if you aren’t completely sure of the amount. Secondly, the hurricane deductible is a calendar year deductible. In the above example, if a storm causes your home $6,000 in damage, the remaining deductible for any further storms during that same calendar year is only $4,000.
What else do people need to know?
Read your insurance policy. At the very least, read the Declarations Page and discuss the listed coverages and limits with your agent. Preventing a claim – damage to your home – should be your top priority. On a regular basis, walk through your home and inspect it carefully. Check under sinks for leaks; make sure the air conditioning unit is functioning properly; tighten washing machine hose connections if loose; throw away any dangerous waste or items on your property; lock up your guns properly; and turn off the main water valve when you head out of town.