Hurricane preparedness: getting an insurance check-up

As anyone who has been through a hurricane can tell you, one of the most difficult times is the clean-up after. But there are ways you can make that process easier. One of those things is assessing your insurance now.

Once a storm comes through, it’s too late to adjust your insurance coverage. And for many companies, a change to a policy requires weeks and sometimes even a month to go into effect. Which is why now is the time to make those changes.

“I recommend sitting down with your insurance agent about once a year,” says Emily LaPlante. The State Farm Insurance agent is no stranger to natural disasters. She helped clients on Johns Island through last year’s devastating floods and destructive tornado. Emily says knowing what’s in your insurance policy is key.

“Some of the important things to look for would be: understanding your deductible. So, knowing if you have a separate wind and hail or separate hurricane deductible so you know what your out of pocket cost are going to be if you face a storm. One of the other things you wanna look for is what endorsements are included in your policies. So a lot of times there’s additional things that you can add to it so that your better prepared.” explains Emily.

Since October, many of us now know floods are not always covered in a policy. Because storm surge often does the most damage, it’s important to be covered and covered well.

“Unfortunately during the flood that we experienced in October, I had some people that had their dwelling insured but not their content. So they actually didn’t have the coverage that they thought they did. So they were unable to replace couches, different property,” she recalls.

And that extra coverage that won’t necessarily break the bank.

“Charleston County is a planned flood community. So even if you fall into what we classify as one of the preferred zones, for a little more than a dollar a day, you can put something in place to make sure, if you did experience a flood, there was coverage for it,” says Emily.

Preparing for hurricane season doesn’t always mean you need to spend more money on insurance.

“There are a lot of things that you can do to your home that can provide you with eligible insurance discounts. So whether that’s seeing if you have hurricane shutters, or resistant glass that a contractor used if you’ve recently replaced windows or anything like that, any retro-fitting that’s done to your roof. So you want to talk to a licensed contractor but you can work with your insurance agent to see what other discounts you might qualify for,” she encourages.

Another item on your preparation to-do list: write down what is in your home.

“We have a great tool online at State Farm now, that you can actually keep a home inventory so I think that’s one of the important things that you can do to make the claim process go smoother if you were to have a claim after a storm,” explains Emily.

Homeowner’s is not the only policy you need to review either.

“Just like you review your home insurance, you want review your auto insurance. We had cars that were damaged during the flood that we had last October. We had the tornado on Johns Island. So you want to make sure you carry comprehensive coverage on your vehicle,” she adds.

Even if you don’t own a home, you should check with your insurance agent.

“Renters, same thing, if you were to experience a hurricane or anything like that. For coverage for your personal belongings, you can get something started for as low as 10 to 15 bucks a month,” Emily says.

It’s also a good time to review your life insurance and health insurance in case you or a member of your family is injured in a storm.

Emily also says you should keep copies of your policies in your disaster preparedness kit. That way you know who to contact after the storm and it will help get the claims process started quicker.

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