Storm season has officially arrived; the National Hurricane Center is predicting an “above average” season, with 19 named storms — including four major hurricanes. It’s time to prepare.
First, be certain you have an electronic copy of your insurance policy so that when you evacuate, you have access to important paperwork you will need to make a claim. Review your coverages so you understand how your coverages work. Ask your agent to explain anything you do not understand, and make sure you know what your deductible is. You should not file a claim until you are sure the repair cost will exceed your deductible.
If your deductible is represented as a percentage, you will need to apply the percentage to the dwelling coverage to know your deductible amount. For example, if you have a 2 percent wind deductible on a policy providing $150,000 coverage, your wind deductible is 2 percent, or $3,000. Many deductibles could be 3, 5 or 10 percent depending on the age of your roof and the company providing your insurance contract.
Be aware that submitted claims, even if you are paid nothing, will remain on your record for five years and drive up your insurance rate. You want to use your coverage for the big catastrophes and not small damages. Don’t file a claim unless you are sure your repair expense will exceed your deductible. Remember that your insurance will only reimburse you to repair what was damaged. If you lose 30 shingles, your insurance will pay to replace them, but you most likely will not get a new roof. Many companies will not pay full value for damage to a roof over 15 years old.
Next, there are a few ways you can better protect your home. Check for leaks and have them repaired to prevent extensive damage during a storm. Clean debris from your gutters to allow them to work as designed. Trim your trees back at least three feet from overhanging or touching the structure. High winds will cause the limbs to damage your home and allow for water intrusion.
Get your generator serviced. Use your phone or a camera to make a video inventory of your home and contents. Make sure to include your closets and storage areas, too. This will help you make a list of items damaged in the event it’s needed for an insurance claim.
The more your do to protect your home, the fewer claims you will have, making you eligible for lower premiums. Plus, you will be able to continue enjoying your home in comfort.
Angelyn Treutel Zeringue is president of SouthGroup Insurance Services, a CPA, PWCAM, CBIA and licensed Trusted Choice Insurance Agent. Reach her at www.southgroupgulfcoast.com, (228) 385-1177 or email@example.com.