Thousands of people are struggling with the aftermath of Hurricane Irene up and down the East Coast. Power companies are struggling to reconnect their customers and towns that are surrounded by flood waters are having supplies, food and water airlifted in. According to an article in USA Today, estimates of damage range anywhere from $3-$7 billion dollars. Unfortunately, most of that is flood-related - and we've repeated time and time again flood damage isn't covered by your homeowners policy. Robert Hunter, director of Insurance for the Consumer Federation of America estimates that less than 20% of the population outside of the Gulf Coast have special flood insurance policies.
People without flood insurance won't be happy that the flood damage isn't covered - the "it couldn't happen to me" attitude may not have been prudent - but other damages caused by the hurricane can be covered under a homeowners policy.
Downed Trees: Any time a hurricane or tropical storm comes along, it brings high wind speeds for sustained periods of time. Even the strongest trees might have trouble standing up to 110 mile-per-hour gusts. If that tree blew over and hit your house or another structure on your property, your insurance should cover the costs of removing the tree and repairing the damage. If you were lucky and the tree missed your home, insurance won't pay for the cost of removal.
Damaged Cars: Of course, homes aren't the only thing in the way of the hurricane-force winds and rains. Cars are often flooded or hit by trees or other debris. If you have comprehensive coverage on your car, these types of damage would be covered.
Living Expenses: Most polices will cover temporary housing and living expenses if you can't stay in your home. Some will even cover the costs of evacuations if your home or others nearby were damaged. The best thing to do is to check your policy to see what is covered and where you'd be on your own.
Spoiled Food: If you have the sort of luck where a natural disaster would happen on a full refrigerator, you'll be happy to know that most policies will cover the cost of replacing food that has gone bad. There is a limit in your policy for food that you can't eat so be sure to review your policy to see how much you'd be covered for.
For more information about what would and wouldn't be covered, and tips for filing a claim after a disaster, visit www.usatoday.com/money/perfi/insurance/story/2011-08-29/Homeowners-insurance-and-the-aftermath-of-Irene/50180862/1. Of course, if you have any specific questions about natural disasters and your policy, feel free to give us a call. We are always happy to help!