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The bluebonnets are barely in full bloom in Texas, but already lurking in the not-so-distant future is that season Texans have come to respect, and even fear: hurricane season. The hurricane season officially gets underway June 1, and lasts until mid-November.
After three consecutive years of catastrophic storms, Texans know their power and the costly devastation they can cause. Texas property owners are still reeling from Hurricane Harvey’s direct hit in 2017, the damages in the hundreds of billions of dollars.
So, what can you learn from these recent natural disasters and how can you best protect your property this hurricane season?
The time to check your homeowner policy is long before a hurricane is approaching. Insurance carriers restrict binding coverage during and after severe weather events. This means that you cannot change an existing policy or purchase a new policy until the event is over, and for flood policies, you’ll need to plan even further in advance.
If you are in an area vulnerable to tropical storm winds, check your policy’s coverage for wind damage. Many standard policies exclude wind-damage coverage. You must purchase an additional windstorm insurance policy.
Home insurance policies do not provide coverage for flooding. There is an automatic 30-day waiting period for flood insurance to go into effect from the date of purchase. (Other terms apply when purchasing a new home). Remember that, even if you aren’t near a body of water or low-lying area that could flood, you can experience flooding nonetheless.
In addition to checking the scope of insurance coverage you carry, be sure you have realistic coverage limits. The cost of construction is rapidly increasing. If you should face remodeling, rebuilding, or replacing your home or its contents, you may be surprised by the costs. Make sure your policy’s coverage amounts are adequate. Your insurance agent can help by performing a replacement cost calculation on your home.
After Hurricane Harvey, thousands of vehicles “flooded” the car auction lots with catastrophic flood damage. Comprehensive auto insurance policies provide coverage for damage if your car is impacted by flooding or other weather events. But if you carry only minimal auto insurance and want to add coverage, the same limited window of opportunity applies to home policies, so act now to avoid the risk of a binding restriction. Insurers typically won’t sell new auto coverage during a severe weather event.
Assess the value of your home furnishings and personal items, and be sure your homeowner’s policy provides adequate protection in the event of loss or damage. If you own high-value items like art, antiques, or expensive jewelry, you might consider adding separate coverage for them in excess of standard policy limits.
Take a photo or video inventory of your belongings and keep it in a safe place. It will be invaluable should you need to file a claim later. And take steps before hurricane season to gather valuable documents into waterproof containers, either stored in a safe place or easily accessible if you should have to evacuate in a hurry.