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Did the Storm Damage Your Home or Car? Here Are Some of Your Insurance Questions Answered

My home is flooded. Are these losses covered under my homeowners insurance policy?

Standard homeowners, condo owners, and renters insurance policies do not cover flood damage, including damage from a storm surge. Flood coverage requires a separate policy from the federally backed National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or a private flood insurer.

Is property damage from a storm surge considered flood damage?

A standard homeowners, condo owners, or renters insurance policy does not cover damage from flooding from a storm surge. Only a flood insurance policy covers this.

How do I know if my damage is considered “flood damage” – what’s the “official” definition of a flood?

Flood damage is caused by an overflow of inland or tidal waters. It’s defined as a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres and two or more properties of what is normally dry land. So typically if only one property is impacted in a neighborhood, then that damage is not considered flood related.

What if I have water coming in from a roof or window leak. Is that covered?

Yes, your homeowners policy will cover that damage.

And what about wind damage – is that covered under my homeowners insurance policy?

Yes. Property insurance covers damage from windstorms to the “residence premises.” These premises can be a single-family home, a duplex where the policyholder lives in one of the units, or any other building where the policyholder resides, as shown on the insurance policy declarations page. A standard homeowners policy also applies to attached structures, such as a garage or deck, and “other structures” that are unattached, such as a separate garage building or shed and swimming pools. The policy includes coverage for damage to contents.

If I have renters insurance – does that cover damage from wind?

A renters policy covers personal belongings damaged by the wind from the storm.

I live in a condo. Am I covered for wind damage to my unit?

If you have purchased a co-op or condominium policy for your apartment or townhouse, you are covered for damage to the interior space of your home. The condo association’s master insurance policy might have coverage for your fixtures, wiring or plumbing, or it may only provide coverage from the “bare walls” and not what is behind them. You can obtain a copy of the master condo policy to better understand what is covered.

If I make temporary repairs to my home – from wind damage or a roof leak – will I get reimbursed?

Do not wait until a claims adjuster arrives to make temporary repairs to prevent further damage to your property. Most policies require you to take these preventive steps, and most insurance companies will reimburse you for the expense of making such reasonable and necessary repairs up to a specified dollar amount. Be sure to save all the receipts from purchases related to your repairs so you can be reimbursed as part of the claims process.

And what about damage caused by mudflow or mudslide? Is that covered by my homeowners policy?

Homeowners policies generally exclude damages caused by mudflow, mudslide, debris flow, landslide, or other similar events.

So if my damage isn’t covered by insurance, is there any help out there?

If the Local Assistance Center (LAC) is open in the area for your event, you should speak with local and state government officials to find out if there are any special financial assistance programs you may be eligible for. If the President declares a state of emergency, there may be financial help available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or low interest loans from the Small Business Administration (SBA). Also, you may check with your lender or other financial lending institutions to explore the possibility of special programs that may be available.

What if my home is uninhabitable – are temporary living expenses covered?

Most homeowners, condo owners, and renters policies cover additional living expenses – any costs over and above your customary living expenses – when you are displaced from your home by a covered loss, such as wind damage, and need temporary shelter. The amount is generally 20 percent of the total insurance you have on your home. Keep all your receipts to document your expenditures.

I lost power and the food in my refrigerator and freezer is spoiled. Is that covered?

Some insurance companies may include food spoilage coverage, usually for a set amount ranging from $250 to $500 per appliance.

What if my home wasn’t damaged, but a large tree fell in the yard. Can I file a claim for that? 

Homeowners insurance policies do not pay for the removal of trees or landscaping debris that did not cause damage to an insured structure. But, if a tree hits your home, that damage is covered by your insurance. If your tree fell on your neighbor’s home, their property insurance company would pay them for damages. However, if the fallen tree was poorly maintained or diseased and you took no steps to take care of it, their insurer may seek reimbursement from you for the damages in a process called subrogation. 

My home is uninhabitable. How can I cover temporary living expenses?

Most homeowners, condo owners, and renters policies cover additional living expenses – any costs over and above your customary living expenses – when you are displaced from your home by a covered loss (such as wind damage) and need temporary shelter. The amount is generally 20 percent of the total insurance you have on your home. Some insurers pay more than 20 percent; others limit additional living expenses to a specific dollar amount spent during a specific period. Keep all your receipts to document your expenditures.

If I’m evacuated due to the storm, are my evacuation expenses covered?

Generally, expenses related to evacuation are only covered if there is also damage to your property or if emergency management authorities enact a mandatory evacuation order prior to the storm making an impact. Check your policy to see how this coverage is defined.

My car was damaged in the storm. Are flooded cars covered?

Flood damage to vehicles, including flooding from a storm surge, is covered if you have purchased comprehensive coverage, also known as “other than collision” coverage, which is optional with a standard auto policy. About 80 percent of U.S. drivers carry comprehensive coverage. 

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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