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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The Importance of a Home Inventory

Florida HomeSpring is in the air! Time to clean, get your home in order and take inventory! Wait… take inventory?

That’s right! How will you ever know what you have to lose if you don’t track it? And really, do any of us know what is in our homes? It’s amazing how quickly all that “stuff” accumulates.

What is a Home Inventory?

A home inventory is a complete list of your belongings. The list should include photos and information on the worth of your contents. If you do not have one now, don’t fret. You are not the only one out there that hasn’t started this process yet. A recent Allstate Insurance survey of Atlanta homeowners found that while than more than 90 percent of homeowners are concerned about protecting their homes, only 41 percent had ever documented or valued their contents. Knowing and cataloging these items can be time-consuming, but may save you a lot of time and frustration later on.

Why It’s Important?

If your home is damaged by a storm or other peril, a printout of all your damaged valuables could be quite useful. Documenting your home inventory in advance can help save time and reduce frustration after a disaster. In the event of a loss, an accurate home inventory can make filing a claim much easier. It is also a great way to discover your true net worth and ensure that you have adequate coverage for your belongings.

Working Smarter – Not Harder

Luckily, technology has come a long way. The “legal pad” inventory is a thing of the past! Home inventory programs now help you organize and track your valuables. Smart phones and advanced programming have made it easier to be organized and prepared. There are many programs and applications available. Here are some top-rated options:

Top Home Inventory Apps:

Know Your Stuff by Insurance Information Institute, Free

MyStuff2 by Rick Maddy Productivity, Free – $4.99

Top Home Inventory Programs:

Delicious Library 3, Mac Program, $25.00

Collectify Home Inventory, PC Program, $30.00

These are just a few of the programs and apps available for purchase or use. Please take the time to find what works best for you and your family.


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6 Steps to Reduce Your Risks when Entertaining

Reducing Risks when Entertaining - W3ins.co,Tis’ the season for entertaining! The fall season begins a slew of gatherings with friends and family. Unfortunately, it can also open you up to risks. As a homeowner, you are responsible for anyone on your property, invited or not. Injuries that could be caused due to your negligence will put you and your family at risk. Your homeowners policy does protect you from liability, but only up to a certain dollar amount. Additional insurance can and should be purchased to offer more protection.

Steps To Take To Reduce Risk

Mitigating risk is something we talk about a lot in the insurance industry. It’s important to know your risks and how to reduce them. While accidents do happen, there are certain things you can do to help lessen them. Here are five ways to help your party goes off without a hitch (or claim).

  1. Check your home for possible safety hazards. Before guests arrive, do a walk-through of your entire property and look for potential hazards. Do you have a step on your porch that is hard to see? Consider adding more light in that area to help light the way. Maybe you had left a garden hose out in the yard where a guest taking a short cut might trip. Make sure all tripping hazards are put away. What about guest seating? Do you have a piece of furniture that you’ve been meaning to get fixed? Bring that item to the garage or other out-of-the-way area to ensure that it is not used. As a homeowner, it‘s your responsibility to provide a safe environment for your guests.
  2. Hire a professional bartender to serve alcohol. Professional bartenders are relatively inexpensive and often carry their own liquor liability. They have been trained to spot when someone has had too much to drink. They know when to stop serving and inform the host of concerning situations. Be aware that larger events that will need to have event insurance as homeowners insurance will likely not cover personal liability. Special Events Coverage through your insurance agent. This coverage provides General Liability coverage for events over one day in duration, up to 100 attendees, such as weddings or New Year’s Eve parties at your home.
  3. Offer Taxi or Uber rides for your guests. Serving alcohol opens you to a whole host of liability. Your guests driving home while under the influence is a big no-no. Having the number handy of several taxi or Uber drivers will help keep your guests safe. Consider having everyone put their keys in a bowl and attach a card with the taxi phone number right to their car keys.
  4. Have plenty of food and water available for guests. Staying hydrated throughout the day/night will help your guests more than you think. Stage several areas throughout your home for easy access to non-alcoholic beverages. Water, lemonade, and seasonal hot cider are all good choices.
  5. Check your homeowner’s insurance policy limits and restrictions. Umbrella polices that offer additional coverage/higher limits and special event insurance are the best ways to help mitigate your risk. There are many instances where your homeowners insurance will not cover you at all if an accident occurs because of a party on your premise. It’s important to establish a good relationship with your insurance agent and to verify if additional coverage is needed for a special event.

Please contact your Personal Insurance Advisor if you have any questions about your homeowners policy.

Wind Mitigation Credits and Your Home Insurance

Are You Taking Advantage of Wind Mitigation Credits?

Wind Mitigation Credits and Your Home InsuranceThe State of Florida requires insurance companies to offer discounts for protecting your home against damage caused by windstorms.  These discounts are known as Wind Mitigation Credits and are offered after a certified inspection is done to your home. Unlike some home inspections, like a four-point inspection, this one is not mandated by your insurance company or your lender and is completely optional. However, most wind mitigation inspections result in savings that at least cover the cost of the inspection in the first year, so why not? It is important to note that you will never be penalized for not having these safety features. Your insurance premiums can only go down, not up.

What Does a Wind Mitigation Inspection Include?

An inspector will come to your home and look for specific factors that would make your home more resilient to a windstorm. Specifically, they will be looking at your roof and home openings such as doors and windows. Florida wind mitigation inspectors examine these key safety features:

  • Roof Shape
  • Roof Bracing of Gable End
  • Roof Deck Attachment
  • Roof Covering
  • Roof-to-Wall Connections
  • Secondary Water Resistance
  • Doors
  • Protection of Openings (windows and other openings)

These features will be evaluated to determine how wind resilient your home is with it’s current features. All Florida homes built after 2002 were constructed to certain safety codes that will likely result in a savings to you. If your roof has not been replaced after 2002 but was built after 1974, we still recommend having a wind mitigation inspection. Based on how it was constructed, there are some features of the roof that you may still qualify for discounts.

There are a few cost-effective measures you can take to safeguard your home and reduce your hurricane-wind premium. A few examples would be securing your roof with hurricane clips or wraps and hurricane protecting your windows, doors and other openings to your home. To qualify for the opening protection credit, all window and openings must be protected by wind impact resistant glass. This also includes a hurricane resistant garage door.

Cost vs. The Savings

A wind mitigation report will cost, on average, $75.00. However, with minimal wind mitigation features in place, the inspection will pay for itself in the first year. Credits can go up to the maximum savings of 88% off the hurricane/wind premium.

Good to Note

This credit is good for five years. After that time, a new inspection will be required to make sure that you still qualify for these credits based on the new forms submitted by the Office of Insurance Regulation.

Please contact your WWW Personal Insurance Advisor to discuss Wind Mitigation Credits & find out if you could benefit from the inspection.


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What is a Personal Umbrella Policy?

Umbrella Home Auto InsuranceHow protected would you say you are? You have a homeowners insurance policy and an auto insurance policy. That should be it, right? Did you know that the limits on these policies often do not cover you in the event of a lawsuit? Unfortunately, we live in a very litigious society where your assets and future wages are put in danger without adequate liability coverage. An umbrella policy works as a supplemental insurance policy.

A personal insurance umbrella policy pays above your home, auto and other liability policies. A common limit among homeowners policies is $300,000. As you can imagine, if you are found to be liable for an injury to a guest in your home, this amount would hardly scratch the surface. Certain risk factors make you more susceptible to these types of risks. Examples include teenage drivers, owning a swimming pool or entertaining guests frequently. Most standard homeowners policies are insufficient when covering claims from animal attacks or bites, liabilities arising from social media, claims outside the US, recreational vehicles (i.e. golf carts), and rented boats over 50 horsepower, just to name a few. A personal umbrella policy can also help eliminate these gaps in coverage.

To illustrate the importance of this policy, consider this: You have a large pool with a fenced-in enclosure. You go on vacation and leave your property locked. Four teenagers hop your fence. One of them attempts a dive into the pool, breaks his neck, and as a result becomes paralyzed. The judgment for the lawsuit is $1 million. Your homeowners policy has a limit of $300,000 for liability. The remaining $700,000 would be your responsibility to pay if you did not have a personal umbrella policy. If you did not have the funds to cover this, then your assets would be used to pay this judgment.

While this is a simplified example, it helps illustrate that a personal umbrella policy offers a large benefit for a small yearly premium. The policy offers peace-of-mind from knowing you are protected in the event of a claim. Please Contact Us today for a personalized quote.


Coverage Gaps Tip Sheet


6 Ways to Protect Your Home During Vacation

Protect your home and relax.

A safe home, will leave your vacation worry free.

Florida! The land of vacation destinations! Going on vacation is a great way to relax and take your mind off the daily grind. Don’t let the excitement of an upcoming trip prevent you from securing your home against burglars. Consider the following tips:

  1. Make sure all outdoor lighting works properly. Replace any batteries or bulbs if needed.
  2. Have a friend, family member or neighbor check on the house often and collect mail. Also consider having someone mow your lawn, if necessary.
  3. Place automatic timers on your lights and set them for different times in different rooms. This will give the impression that you are home and doing things in those rooms. Also consider setting a radio to a timer so that thieves are deterred by voices in the home.
  4. Do not leave your valuables such as jewelry, art work or electronics sitting out in plain view. Hide these items in inconspicuous places such as old laundry detergent boxes.
  5. Take a photo inventory of each room of the house before you leave in case there is a loss.
  6. Try not to be too specific when posting about your upcoming trip on social media sites. Exact details will give criminals plenty of information about the perfect time to break in. Resist the urge to “check in” to your vacation destination. Nothing says your not home like a check in from miles away. (This is also a good tip for anytime you are out of the house.)

As always, check to make sure your homeowners insurance coverage is up-to-date before the trip. Contact you W3 advisor if you have any questions about your homeowners insurance.