Homeowners that have lived in Florida for a while are likely intimately familiar with the stress resulting from hurricane damage and the claims process to follow.
For people who are new to Florida or those who are moving from further inland to a coastal area, the most frequently asked question is: Does home insurance cover hurricane damage in Florida?
Yes and No
I’m kidding, right? Not quite. If your home is located in a “wind pool” (coastal area), your homeowner policy probably excludes coverage for wind damage, and you should purchase a Wind policy from Citizens or another specialty company. If you live in an inland area that is not in the “wind pool,” your homeowner policy will most likely cover hurricane damage, but your hurricane-related claim will typically be subject to a higher deductible than those for other perils.
Read Your Policy and Talk to Your Agent
Unfortunately, since homeowner policies are similar but not always the same, there may be some lingering confusion. Your specific coverage and exclusions are always listed within the policy, but it is all usually written in legal jargon and therefore may be difficult to understand—so check with your agent! A homeowner’s policy lists the coverage, limits, and deductibles on the Declarations page, which is usually toward the front of the policy.
Water Damage from a Hurricane
Most of the coverage confusion in relation to hurricane damage surrounds the water claim. Many policyholders will report that their home is flooded and then find out that their policy does not cover flood damage. The confusion lies in the definition of “flood.” Simply put, flood damage is the result of RISING water, whereas most hurricane water damage is the result of FALLING water. Two typical scenarios to consider are:
- A hurricane hits your neighborhood, and the windows of your home are blown out which results in FALLING rain flooding your home. This damage would be covered by the homeowner or wind policy.
- A hurricane hits your neighborhood, causing the lake behind your home to overflow and RISING water floods your home. This damage would not be covered under the homeowner or wind policy, but rather a Flood Policy; hopefully you had one.
This type of hurricane coverage was the subject of many lawsuits filed following the devastating damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. It was the direct result of homeowners not understanding the specific coverage in their policy.
Who is Responsible?
Other disputed claims result from the policyholder not knowing whose policy covers damage when trees and lawn furniture start flying around during a storm. If your lawn chair is hurled through your neighbor’s sliding glass door, your neighbor’s policy pays to repair the door. If your beautiful Pine tree falls on your neighbor’s home, your neighbor’s policy pays, not yours.
More than Just Wind
Finally, it’s important to note that hurricane damage is not limited to wind and rain. Typically, hurricanes also bring lightning and tornados to the party. In many cases, homes are completely devastated along with any automobiles or boats parked in the driveway or garage.
Always discuss your concerns and coverage questions with an insurance professional so that you can be sure your most valuable asset is protected sufficiently and properly.