If a hurricane hits the Tampa Bay Area and your home or possessions are lost or damaged, do you have enough insurance coverage? Now is the time to find out -- not after the storm has hit.
If you're a homeowner, you'll probably need two kinds of insurance if you live near the coast: homeowner's and flood.
Many people don't realize that their homeowner's policies won't cover them if their home is flooded. You have to have a separate policy subsidized by the federal government for that.
Your decision on whether to buy flood insurance should be based on the elevation of your home - how high it is above sea level. Your insurance agent and your local emergency management office can help provide that information.
Also keep in mind that there's a 30-day waiting period to get flood insurance, and you can't get homeowner's insurance -- or add to it -- if there's a tropical storm or hurricane anywhere near the state.
Long before storm season, it's a good idea to check your policy. Make sure it's in force -- that the premiums have been paid -- and check to see if it covers the cost of replacing your possessions or simply provides the actual cash value.
Experts say replacement coverage is the preferred policy, because it replaces what you have at today's prices instead of the used value.
Today's insurance policies also have high deductibles for hurricane damage, often up to 2 to 5 percent of a home's value. It's a good idea to shop around for the lowest deductible you can get.
Something else to keep in mind is that most policies limit how much you can claim on certain items. Your jewelry, silver, antiques, and guns often have a limit of about $250, so it's a good idea to get a separate rider to have those items insured to their full value.
When the time comes to collect on your policy, you're going to have to be able to prove what you had. That means you need to take the time to write up an inventory of your possessions and take lots of pictures. If you have a video camera, do a video walk through of your home showing all the rooms and what's in them.
Also, keep copies of your policy and your inventory in a safe place like a safe deposit box in a bank. If you evacuate, take a copy with you. If your home is wiped out, you'll be very glad you did.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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