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How To Insure Your Home For Hurricane Season

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Many homeowners learn the hard way that their homeowners insurance doesn't cover property damage caused by hurricanes and floods. Hurricane season is upon us, making now the perfect time to review your insurance policies and see what's covered if a big storm hits.

The risk and cost of hurricanes

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently published forecasts that predicted a 70 percent likelihood of 10 to 16 named storms this year. Of the predicted storms, four to eight could become hurricanes, and one to four of those could become Category 3 to 5 hurricanes.

According to the ISO, hurricanes and tropical storms caused $161.2 billion in insured losses in 2014 dollars in the United States from 1995 to 2014.

How to insure against hurricanes

If you live in a hurricane-susceptible state, you're are familiar with the type of damage they can cause. Did you also know that the wind damage and flood damage from a hurricane are covered differently?

Flood insurance

Homeowners and renters insurance do not cover flood damage, including water from a storm. Federal flood insurance purchased through your insurance agent or company is the only guaranteed flood insurance coverage available.

About 90 private insurance companies nationally offer flood insurance backed by the federal government. Coverage through the National Flood Insurance Program costs an average of $700 per year, but premiums vary depending on your property's flood risk.

Windstorm insurance

In most states, your standard homeowners insurance policy will cover damage caused by wind. However, if you live in a high-risk coastal state, you might need to buy separate windstorm insurance.

Windstorm insurance covers damage from any high wind, including hurricanes. Coverage may be available as a rider on your current policy or through a state-run insurance pool.

In 19 coastal states (and the District of Columbia), damage caused by hurricanes or named storms is subject to a separate deductible. Hurricane deductibles are usually set as a percentage of the home's insured value and often range from one to five percent.

Other tips for protecting your home

  • Take inventory of your possessions so you'll have an accurate record to rely on when making a claim. Check out Know Your Worth to find out how.
  • Look into replacement-cost home insurance; it can help ensure you have enough coverage to rebuild your home if it's destroyed.
  • Loss-of-use home insurance reimburses you for living expenses if you're uprooted from your home following a disaster.

    How To Inventory Your Possessions With Your Smartphone

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