Hurricanes are a dangerous fact of life for Gulf Coast residents and as predictable every summer as humidity and honeybees. They can devastate entire communities in one wicked weather cycle and leave traumatized homeowners to salvage whatever remains in the rubble and wonder how they can rebuild their lives. What insurance will cover and whether it will be enough?
Even premium policies do not cover all losses from hurricane destruction, especially flooding and storm surge. Louisiana is one of 19 states that charge separate damage deductibles for hail, windstorms and hurricanes named by the World Meteorological Association. Most policies in high-risk regions included them after Hurricane Andrew ravaged South Florida in 1992.
Deductibles typically range between 2 and 5% of the insured property value. A $300,000 home at the top end of the scale would require the policyholder to pay $15,000 out of pocket. But there are ways to mitigate insurance costs in The Pelican State.
Reduce your premiums
Windstorms and tornadoes trigger deductibles when they eclipse 39 miles per hour, which are destructive enough to cause roof and siding damage. Hurricane-strength winds start at 74 mph in a Category 1 storm and escalate to 157 mph in a Category 5. Gusts in that range can tear off roofs, blow down walls, shatter glass, cause buildings to sway and turn debris into missiles.
Homeowners might be eligible for premium discounts if they build or retrofit their house to comply with construction codes enacted to reduce property losses in hurricanes and windstorms. Those building techniques and improvements include:
- Roof bracing and covering
- Water barriers
- Wall-to-floor foundation strength
- Window, door and skylight reinforcement
Because many homeowners’ policies do not cover flooding or water damage, it can be important to know what factor wind played in damaging your property. Itemize your losses and take photos and videos, if possible, to document evidence. Do not throw away anything before filing a claim. And record any repairs or expenses to fix your property to include them as well.
Know how to prepare
Preparing for and surviving a hurricane is a stressful experience. Picking up the pieces and starting over can be similarly nerve-wracking. Battling an insurance company for reimbursement can seem overwhelming. To heal you need to feel safe and secure in your home again.
Living in Hurricane Country comes with inherent risks. Know what they are and how to limit your liability so when the winds and rain come howling again you will be able to stand your ground and fight back.