Being prepared for the 2018 Hurricane Season

Published 10:05 am Wednesday, June 6, 2018

By Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader


With many residents still in recovery mode from last year’s storm, being prepared for this season is taking a strong precedence.

“While many Texans are still recovering from the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, we know there are questions about how they can protect themselves and their belongings in the unfortunate event there is another storm,” said Houston Allstate agency owner Lilla Wright. “That’s why we are sharing answers to common questions when deciding the best insurance protection for you and your family. “

Here are some things to consider when it comes to hurricanes and insurance coverage:

  • IS YOUR COVERAGE UP TO DATE? Ensure your insurance coverage reflects the current condition of your home. So, if you’ve done anything that increases the value of your home or its contents, like building an addition or remodeling, you should immediately talk with your insurance agent to decide if your current insurance is sufficient.
  • DO YOU HAVE COVERAGE FOR ADDITIONAL LIVING EXPENSES? This coverage is intended to help pay for the additional cost of living away from home if your house is uninhabitable due to a covered loss. This may include payments for the additional costs of food and a place to stay. Additional living expenses may or may not already be included in your homeowners policy. Talk to your insurance agent about what coverages are available to you.
  • DO YOU HAVE COVERAGE FOR FLOODS? Following Hurricane Harvey, FEMA reported 80-percent of Harvey victims did not have flood insurance. Most homeowners policies do not usually cover flood damage. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is the primary source for flood insurance in the United States. You can go to their website at www.floodsmart.govor contact your insurance provider for more information. NOTE: There is often a 30-day waiting period after you buy a flood insurance policy before flood coverage takes effect.

Talk to your licensed insurance agent about what is and isn’t covered by your policy.

  • The cause of the flooding matters. Damage caused by a sewer backup is only covered by flood insurance if it’s a direct result of flooding; the damage is not covered if the backup is caused by some other problem. For a complete summary of coverage, go to What’s Covered.
  • Coverage for your building and contents.Contents and building coverage are purchased separately (for the Preferred Risk Policy, there’s an option for combination coverage for both contents and building coverage), but there are always separate deductibles. Unless you have contents coverage, your flood-damaged contents are not covered.
  • DO YOU HAVE COMPREHENSIVE CAR COVERAGE? If your car is damaged by anything other than a collision, like a falling tree, collision coverage may not protect you. You’ll also need comprehensive coverage on your auto policy. Most comprehensive auto polices provide coverage for vehicles damaged by floods or rising water. And if you have to leave your car at the shop, you’ll also want to consider rental car coverage.

You can only purchase flood insurance through an insurance agent or an insurer participating in the NFIP. You cannot buy it directly from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). If your insurance agent does not sell flood insurance, you can contact the NFIP Referral Call Center at 1-800-427-4661 to request an agent referral.

Your insurance agent may ask you for an Elevation Certificate (EC). This certificate verifies your building’s elevation compared to the estimated height floodwaters will reach in a major flood in a high-risk flood area.

It’s also beneficial to ask if your community participates in the Community Rating System (CRS), because this could mean local officials already have a copy of your EC on file. Policyholders with insured properties in communities that participate in CRS may be eligible for policy discounts.

A property owner in a high-risk flood area always has the right to purchase an EC, which may reduce your flood insurance premium. Contact a licensed insurance agent for further information.

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a 75-percent chance that the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season will be near- or above-normal.

NOAA’s forecasters predict a 70-percent likelihood of 10 to 16 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 5 to 9 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 1 to 4 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher). An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which 6 become hurricanes, including 3 major hurricanes.