Know the difference between flood and hurricane insurance

By Carol Ostrow | | Jun 20, 2018

Unfortunate homeowners face frustration when hurricanes and related forces of nature level their lot or create secondary disasters from flooding or falling limbs — with many learning too late that a standard homeowner’s insurance policy coverage usually excludes flood damage.

Anthony Tornatore, insurance product management director for Chicago-based Kin Insurance Inc., said there is a common misconception that only floodplain residents are susceptible to such damage, pointing out that Hurricane Harvey proved that untrue.

“Because floods don’t just happen in flood zones, we strongly suggest homeowners consider flood insurance, even if the home isn’t in a traditional floodplain,” Tornatore said. “Take photos of the damage as soon as you are safely able to. Be thorough and document everything, even if you’re not sure whether or not you’ll make a claim.”

Visual documentation should include photos not only of damaged parts of the house, but also of damaged belongings. Create a thorough record; identify each structure or item in writing, and include what caused the damage such as falling debris or water.

Anthony Tornatore said homeowners in hurricane-prone areas can pay a “hurricane deductible” to cover extreme damage.   Contributed photo

To distinguish between flood and hurricane coverage, Tornatore pointed out that while standard home insurance may cover some wind-related incidents, homeowners in hurricane-prone areas can pay a “hurricane deductible” to cover any extreme damage exceeding the standard scope.

“Flood insurance covers damage caused by floods – that is, a surge of water from an external force … not from, say, a burst pipe in the home,” he said. “What is sometimes referred to as ‘hurricane insurance’ covers the damage a house endures from high-speed winds.”

Wind mitigation is important, he said, citing structural improvements that reinforce the property serve a double purpose: protecting the house and qualifying policyholders for greater discounts. Additionally, he emphasized preparation as key to maximizing safety in the long run.

“Fortifying your home, maintaining the property well, having supplies … are all extremely important in protecting your home and your family during a hurricane,” he said.

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