Homeowners Insurance and Hurricanes: What Is (and Isn’t) Covered

home with approaching hurricane

Hurricane insurance coverage is as vital to the Florida homeowner as storm shutters that withstand gale-force winds. Those sandbags, batteries, and shutters are must-haves in the emergency preparedness kit, but hurricane insurance coverage alone possesses the power of rebuild. If the worst happens, and that storm demolishes a home, the right coverage can make all the difference. Here’s what to expect as you consider coverage options:

Florida Hurricane Insurance Requirements

It may surprise you to learn that many homeowners policies consider coverage for hurricanes to be standard. However, as a Floridian, beware: a separate windstorm deductible applies to covered losses. When one speaks of ‘hurricane coverage,’ that is actually what they are referring to – the combination of coverages that add up to full protection. This a la carte coverage aspect means that it is important to talk with an insurance professional before choosing coverage. Whatever policy you select, know that the best options cover both the exterior of the home as well as the contents. That takes into account those valuables you hold dear.

Hurricane Damage Covered by Homeowners Insurance

If a tree pushes a divot through your rooftop or the windows shatter (where were those shutters when you needed them)? Your homeowners insurance should cover the damage. Remember, though, that some areas require an extra oomph of coverage––whether that be through increased contents coverage or a replacement-cost endorsement for your contents. This provides you the money to replace your damaged or destroyed possessions with the same, or similarly valued, items.

Possible Damage Not Covered by Homeowners Insurance

Even though hurricanes often bring flooding along for the trip, homeowners insurance does not cover damage from rising surface water. Mold is also not covered by homeowners insurance unless it was added by endorsement and the result of a covered loss. Excess moisture in the air can cause mold, and this is a very real concern when a hurricane hits. 

Flood Damage (Even Resulting from a Hurricane) is Not Covered by Homeowners Insurance

You read that correctly. Even though it’s rather counterintuitive, flood insurance is a completely different coverage. Living in Florida, with shrinking shorelines and neighborhoods surrounded by water, it’s essential for your total home protection to elect for flood insurance.

If a hurricane results in flooding, those who elected to purchase flood insurance can rest easy knowing their home and property will be protected.

Every Florida Home Should Have Flood Insurance

We can’t drive this home enough. Did you know that it doesn’t take a major storm for flooding to occur? Homeowners who state that they don’t need flood insurance because they don’t live in a flood zone miss the mark. In Florida, we know that when it rains, it pours. Heavy Florida showers present a very real flood risk.

Protect yourself. Prepare your home against hurricanes and know what your policy covers. Speak with one of our experienced advisors long before that storm system appears on the radar. We will break down the intricacies of insurance and make sure you understand what you’re paying for. We’re here to help you weather the storm.

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Is Flood Damage Covered By Homeowners Insurance?

flooded house

Water, water everywhere: Unless you’re lounging on a boat or swimming laps, it’s not a good scenario––especially in your home. Insurance to protect against flooding is a specific coverage election and that’s why the policy is specifically labeled ‘flood insurance.’ So, why do you need it? Reason number one is that water can wreak havoc upon a home, and all are susceptible. 

Water Damage from Rising Surface Water

If excess rising surface water makes its way indoors, that means homeowners’ insurance will take care of the damage, right? This is a common misconception. Water damage from rising surface water will not be covered by homeowner’s insurance. Rising surface water constitutes a flood and therefore is covered by flood insurance only.

Forget the part-tsunami, part-tidal wave catastrophic flood image. Just an inch of water inside your home will do major damage. It doesn’t take a dramatic event to douse the savings you’ll need to access to repair that floor, built-in cabinetry, baseboards, etc. Often, water damage from rising surface water comes not from a rush, but a continuous flow. 

We all Live in a Flood Zone

You read that correctly: We’re all in this together. The sooner homeowners realize that they, too, live in a flood zone, the sooner they’ll realize purchasing Florida flood insurance is non-negotiable. Sure, some of us are more at risk than others. The house on the shore of Anna Maria Island is, of course, going to be located in a higher potential flood zone than the Pinellas Park bungalow. However, a well-placed storm can do major damage anywhere.

Flood Insurance at a Glance

How do you know what your Florida flood insurance covers? For the quick and comprehensive answer, contact your W3 insurance advisor. Our staff is trained to assess your exact flood insurance needs and suggest the policy that fits. Remember: The question is not whether you need to purchase a flood insurance policy – it’s which policy you should select. 

Basic flood insurance is likely going to cover the actual façade of the home. The prior example of permanent flooring damaged due to flood is covered with this type of policy in effect. The architectural integrity of the residence and more are protected as defined in the actual flood policy.  

Dwelling and Contents Coverage

Concerned about valuables being damaged because of a flood? Comprehensive Florida flood insurance coverage may be your best election. This ‘upgraded’ coverage means that should the couch be harmed by a flood, you’ll be compensated. Homeowners with valuable possessions such as antiques find these policies to be a vital part of their insurance plan. It’s important to purchase dwelling and contents coverage for flood protection. 

Flood insurance is most frequently purchased through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or a private market company. The insurance company underwriting your home insurance may offer it as an endorsement to your home policy.

While being fully covered is the optimal solution, some flood coverage is better than none at all. 

Are You Covered?

If you aren’t sure, it’s time to ask the experts. Our advisors will review your policy at no charge to ensure you are fully covered. 

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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage?

Flooding from a Hurricane If you’re asking, “Does homeowners insurance cover water damage?” we sincerely hope that you are not already ankle-deep in H2O. Answering the water damage coverage question is nuanced; whether your homeowners insurance will cover water damage depends on a number of factors. Let’s dive in.

Types of Water Damage Commonly Covered by Homeowners Insurance

From overflowing dishwashers to water damage after a fire, the following items are typically covered by homeowners insurance.  

Plumbing – Burst pipes, resulting damage from faulty work and accidental overflow are usually covered. 
Fire – Extinguishing a blaze demands water to douse the flames. The resulting damage will be covered.
Leaky roof – Sorry to all those who were looking to get a new house-topper! While repairs needed due to leaks from lack of maintenance or wear and tear are not covered, if the wind removes a portion or all of your roof and lets the rain inside, your home insurance responds.
Accidental overflow – Should an appliance or fixture malfunction, you are likely in luck regarding recompense. This is one of those classic “thank goodness I purchased insurance” moments when the damage is an absolute surprise. Be aware that some policies limit or exclude water damage. Check your policy for specific terms and conditions.
Mold – When left undetected long enough, mold can pose a significant respiratory hazard. If mold is the result of a covered water damage loss, eradication expenses will be paid. Policy limits for water damage and mold coverage will vary depending on your policy form. This is another important reason to review your policy each year and to speak with your personal insurance advisor if you have questions.
Vandalism – The creative list of possibilities in this category is endless. Luckily, your homeowners insurance will most likely cover the damages. 

Types of Water Damage Not Covered by Homeowners Insurance

Now for the not-so-great news: Not all water damage is covered by homeowners insurance. Here are a few items that are not. 
Ground seepage – When rain falls to the ground, it doesn’t travel straight down. It moves underground and sometimes resurfaces in low-lying home areas. Damages from ground seepage are not covered by homeowners insurance. 
Poorly maintained pipes – You are held to a certain level of care regarding your home. If those pipes are exceedingly old or the repair work on them is shoddy, your coverage is likely not going to help you.
Water or sewer pipe backup – Avoid this scenario by keeping your pipes in good working order.
Flooding (rising surface water) – This comes as a surprise to many, but damage from rising surface water will not be covered by homeowners insurance. 

Why Flood Insurance is so Important for Florida Homeowners

Repeat the following adage as many times as it’s necessary to convince yourself that flood insurance is a necessary protection: Everyone lives in a flood zone. Even if you don’t have a view of the Gulf, you are still susceptible to nature-led flooding. Let’s talk hurricanes. Florida is the ultimate tourist destination for hurricanes, and these unwelcome storms bring massive flood potential with them. We also live in a state with massive rainfalls. These events can happen anywhere and at any time. Lastly, storm surge and tidal waters can easily flood or even level an entire home.

Not Sure if You’re Covered? Ask Your W3 Advisor.

At W3 Insurance, our advisors know protection. Specifically, our team understands the nuances of flood coverage and can direct you to the policy that is right for you. Before the flood, there’s W3. Contact us for a review of your current policy or to elect new coverage.

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Are you Covered for a Business Interruption?

Business Interruption Insurance - Be AwareRecent heavy rainfall reminds us that not all natural disasters are brought on by hurricanes. Due to heavy and constant rains, flooding has damaged much of Florida’s roadways. Last week, Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for five counties. This included three bay area counties; Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Pasco.

Damage like this creates an immediate need for all for all companies to take a closer look at their insurance coverage. Would you be sufficiently covered in case of a natural disaster? States like Florida and other coastal locations are particularly susceptible to devastating losses from flooding, tropical storms, hurricanes.

“75% of businesses suffering major property damage are out of business within three years because they did not have a contingency plan or the proper financing to see them through the period of recovery.”

What is Business Income Insurance?

When it comes to managing your property risk, business owners should be concerned not only with a loss to their tangible property but also to their income. Natural disasters, fires, and other insured perils often result in an interruption of the operations of a business, which typically lead to a loss of income.  Business income insurance is designed to cover your economic damages when you experience a covered loss that results in a suspension of your business. A suspension of your business can mean either a slow down or a cessation of your business activities. Loss of income is defined in most policies as your net profit as well as continuing expenses, including payroll.  Extra expenses that you incur to recover from a disaster can also be covered.  You might think of it as disability insurance for your business!

What is Included in a Business Interruption Insurance Policy?

  • Compensation for lost income if you are no longer able to operate your business due to a disaster-related damage that is covered by your current property insurance policy.
  • Profits that would have been earned had the disaster not occurred. These numbers are based on previous financial records.
  • Operating expenses that must be paid even if the business is temporarily closed. Examples are utilities, rent, etc.
  • Expenses from a temporary location for you to operate out of while repairs are being made to your permanent location.

Business interruption insurance is one of the most valuable policies a business can have, yet it is often overlooked. Contact us today to learn more about this valuable policy.


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