3 Insurance Items to Review for Hurricane Season

Hurricane season started 9 days ago on June 1 and runs for 6 months through the end of November.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting “active to extremely-active” season.  Their predictions include:

  • 13 to 20 named Atlantic storms
  • 7 to 11 of these storms will strengthen into a hurricane
  • 3 to 6 could become major hurricanes (winds over 110 mph)

2012 was the third busiest hurricane season on record.  There were:

  • 19 named storms
  • 10 became hurricanes
  • 2 were major storms

The factors contributing to the NOAA’s prediction of an active to extremely active season include:

  • Warmer than average ocean waters
  • The lack of an El Nino warming of the central Pacific Ocean
  • An active pattern of storm systems coming off west Africa

Hurricane prone areas include all states along the Gulf of Mexico and those along the Atlantic Ocean.

The season is off to a quick start with last week’s Tropical Storm Andrea.  Andrea entered the Gulf of Mexico, took a sharp right crossing the Florida panhandle and then headed up the eastern seaboard.  Andrea caused wind damage in Florida and North Carolina, but the main damage came from heavy rainfall resulting in flooding and flash flooding from Florida to Connecticut.  Andrea’s rain totals included:

  • 9 inches on Eastern Miami – Dade County
  • More than 6 inches on eastern Broward County
  • 3.5 inches on Philadelphia
  • 3.71 inches on Newark, NJ
  • 4.16 inches on Central Park in New York City
  • 6.64 inches on Gales Ferry, CT

Tropical Storms and Hurricanes can cause major damage from wind, flooding and wind driven rain.  Now is a great time to take a few minutes to prepare before you’re affected by a storm.  Preparation is not just for those who live along the coast.  Damage from a hurricane or tropical storm can extend hundreds of miles inland so whether you live in north Texas or along the coast, here are three insurance items to review now, when you can take pre-emptive steps.

  • Does your home policy cover wind driven rain?
  • What coverage for wind damage is in your home or wind policy?
  • Do you need a flood policy?

Wind Driven Rain:  A tropical storm becomes a hurricane when maximum sustained winds reach at least 74 mph.  When this occurs, wind begins to drive rain sideways causing it to enter homes around doors, windows and any tiny crack.  Gallons of water can be pushed through even the smallest holes and cracks resulting in ruined sheet rock, insulation, flooring and furniture.  Damage from wind driven rain can total thousands of dollars and not all home policies cover wind driven rain.

Many of the home policies in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama did not include coverage for wind driven rain when Katrina hit.  This left those home owners on the hook for all repairs after their claims were denied.  Confirm with your agent your home policy coverage.

Wind Coverage:  Texas home policies typically come with coverage from wind damage, however some policies allow it to be excluded.  For home owners who live at least one county inland, here are three suggestions:

  • Confirm that your home policy covers wind damage including damage from hurricane winds.
  • Confirm what your deductible is in both percentage terms (1%, 2%, etc. of the home’s dwelling value) and what that means in hard dollars.
  • Set aside funds to cover the deductible in the event of wind damage.  It’s better to have those funds and not need to use them than to need them and not have that money.

Home insurance policies on homes located in Texas’ 14 coastal counties and southeast Harris County do not include coverage for wind damage.  These home owners have to buy coverage from the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA).  A wind policy only provides coverage if the home is damaged by wind, and like flood policies, they have two types of coverage:

  • There is coverage for the home or dwelling
  • There is coverage for the contents

In these areas, if the home sustains damage caused by wind, the wind policy covers it, not the home policy.  The same goes for contents damaged from severe wind.  It’s important to note that if the contents or personal property is damaged as a result of severe wind and the home owner has not purchased contents coverage as a part of their wind policy, that damage will not be covered.  The home owner must purchase both in order to be fully covered.

If you have a home in southeast Harris County or one of Texas’ 14 coastal counties:

  • Review your wind policy to confirm your home is adequately covered.
  • Confirm if you have contents coverage.  Consider adding it if you don’t and confirm if you have enough coverage to protect you in a severe to total loss.
  • Know your deductible amount and set aside funds in the event a storm hits your area.

Be aware, there may be a 30 day waiting period for wind coverage to go into effect after payment has been received.  Trying to get coverage at the last minute usually means going without.

Flood Coverage:  No home policy covers damage from flooding.  Only a flood policy covers this.  Flood coverage protects coastal homes from rising water and tidal surge.  If you live in a coastal area, chances are you have flood coverage.  There are two parts to a flood policy:

  • There is coverage for the home or dwelling
  • There is coverage for the contents

Just like wind, both parts are required to be completely covered.  For people who are not in an area where flood coverage is required, consider getting some flood coverage.  I have recommended this to any client I’ve worked with in Harris County.

Two recent events show us this coverage could be invaluable.  Tropical Storm Andrea and Hurricane Irene (in 2011) show us these storms can cause severe flooding in areas hundreds of miles inland.  In Irene’s case, this storm dumped upwards of 11 to 12 inches of rain in areas of New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire.  Several rivers rose 8 to 20 feet flooding cities and towns inland.

If a tropical storm were to stall over the D/FW area and drop 8 inches of water in a short period of time, the impact would be huge.  Be aware there is a 30 day waiting period for wind coverage to go into effect after payment has been received.  Trying to get coverage at the last minute usually means going without.

Do you have a comment, question or an experience to share?  Post them in the contents section of our blog or on our Facebook page.  We answer every question and every comment helps us learn something new.

Evie Wise
Evie Wise


Evie Wise
Evie Wise

Share this post with your friends

Leave a Reply