Storm Season is Here…Are You Ready?

car under treeDoes June 29, 2012 ring a bell for you? That date will live in the insurance professionals’ memories for years to come. Derecho is a Spanish term for a straight, long, widespread and long-lasting storm that comes with fast-moving thunderstorms and rain.  It can also bring damaging high winds, hail as big as golf balls, and tornadoes. Whoever developed that definition was spot on! The June 2012 Mid-Atlantic and Midwest derecho was described by Wikipedia as “one of the most destructive and deadly fast-moving severe thunderstorm complexes in North American history.”

As beautiful as spring and summer can be, it’s a time of year when we have to be mindful of weather forecasts and be prepared. One of my personal memories is the power outage. My own family experienced a power outage for approximately 48 hours – much less time than many others. We were fortunate.

When I think of a power outage, I think of protecting the freezer/refrigerator contents. An unendorsed homeowner policy provides no automatic coverage for the contents.  The good news is that most companies offer an endorsement to add  this coverage to a homeowner policy. It is fairly inexpensive and many endorsements have a lower deductible than the policy deductible (for example: $100 deductible for refrigerator/freezer contents).

Typically, wind and hail are standard coverages in the homeowner forms. Thank goodness! However, an insurance company may handle wind/hail claims in a variety of ways. Some companies may charge extra – a surcharge – for wind/hail claims.  Others do not. Some companies require different deductible options based on the age of the roof, but others do not.   Companies may also review a wind/hail claim on its own merit and underwrite accordingly.

Storms not only affect your home, they can damage your personal auto as well. If your auto policy provides physical damage coverage, you will have coverage available for storm-related damage such as wind and hail. Many companies offer one deductible if the loss affects both the home and auto line of business, applying the higher deductible of the two.

To illustrate:

Hail damages your home and 2014 Mini Van

Homeowner deductible – $1,000

Auto comprehensive deductible – $500

In the above example, under the one deductible philosophy, the company would apply the $1,000 deductible because it’s the larger of the two. With many companies, this is an automatic benefit if both lines of business are insured with the same carrier.

For more information on preparing for and protecting yourself from the next big storm, see our blog posts “Tree Damage – Are You Insured?” and “Preparing for a Power Outage“.

Enjoy your spring and summer, but do not take your eye off of that storm! Stay safe and protected.

The policy coverages described above are in the most general terms and are subject to the actual policy exclusions and conditions. For specific coverage details and policy exclusions, refer to the policy itself or contact your independent agent.

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