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    Hurricanes, Homeowner's Insurance, and What You Need to Know

    House damaged by a hurricane
    The East Coast experiences its annual hurricane season from June through November. With a half-year threat of damaging storms, understanding your homeowner's insurance is essential if you live near the Atlantic. A major part of understanding your coverage is learning how to choose the right contractor. Take a look at what you need to know about insurance policies, wild weather, and rebuilding your home.

    Do You Have Enough Insurance?

    Having the bare minimum won't help you in the event of a major disaster. A routine insurance checkup with your agent can help you to assess whether you're uninsured or not. According to a Consumer Reports survey, slightly more than half of American adults review this essential policy periodically (every couple of years).

    Your homeowner's policy should cover:
    • Storm damage. This includes damage that results from lightning strikes, hail, wind, and other perils. Look closely at the specifically named perils or types of damage covered. If you don't understand the language of the policy, ask your agent for an explanation that isn't filled with jargon.
    • Fire. Even though fire isn't your first thought when it comes to hurricanes and strong storms, a lightning strike, an interior electrical issue, a gas appliance, or similar issues can all result in a home-destroying disaster.
    • Explosions. Again, gas appliances are combustible. A damaged gas line, a lightning strike, and other types of storm-related problems can result in an explosion.
    • Flooding. Most traditional homeowner's policies don't cover flood damage. But if a storm surge or torrential rain floods your home, you'll need this coverage to pay for repairs and rebuilding.
    • Exterior buildings. If you have a shed, detached garage, pool house, or other outbuilding, make sure that your homeowner's policy covers it too.
    A severe natural disaster may displace you. Along with having enough insurance to pay for repair-related expenses, consider adding coverage that pays for living expenses while you rebuild.

    What's Your Deductible?

    Even though homeowner's insurance will pay for a sizable portion of your expenses (provided you have enough coverage in your policy), it won't cover 100 percent of the costs. Every policy comes with a deductible. Like your auto or health insurance, the homeowner's deductible is the portion of the costs that you're responsible for.

    A higher deductible can score you a lower premium price. But following a natural disaster or severe storm, you may end up paying much more than you can afford. Discuss deductible and premium prices with your agent, working to find financial balance between the two.

    Is the Contractor Legitimate?

    After the storm settles, contact your insurance agency and get ready for the rebuild. If you don't already have a contractor, finding one immediately after a natural disaster comes with challenges. Beware of so-called contractors who prey on homeowners after severe storms.

    These seemingly suspicious contractors may show up on your doorstep, asking if you need help. While a well-meaning professional is welcome, someone who is looking to profit from your loss isn't. Look out for contractors who:
    • Won't go through the insurance agency. If the contractor asks you to pay them directly, doesn't seem knowledgeable about filing a homeowner's claim, or refuses to work with your agency, something is wrong.
    • Has no references. Any contractor, whether they're local or not, should have at least a few positive references.
    • Pushes you to sign a contract. Avoid anyone who seems overly pushy or wants you to sign any kind of legal document without taking time to read and fully understand it.
    • Uses scare tactics. Even though storm damage can result in serious problems (including health hazards such as mold), a reputable contractor won't try to scare you into using their services.
    When in doubt, talk to your insurance agent — especially before signing any type of contract or legal document.

    Do you need new homeowner's insurance? Contact Rowell Insurance Agency for more information.