Hurricane season officially starts in June and runs through November. These tropical storms can wreak havoc on anything in their path.
Raina Russo, who was living in Atlantic Beach, New York, when Hurricane Sandy hit in October 2012, experienced this firsthand.
“We had the ocean come in from one side and the bay come in from the other, and they met in my living room,” she says.
The house’s foundation survived, but the storm destroyed her family’s cars and caused enough damage in the basement and first floor that they had to move out for four months. Insurance covered some but not all the cost for repairs, and finding a rental home near her kids’ schools proved challenging.
Fortunately, Russo and her husband kept meticulous records of spreadsheets, photos and receipts for their insurance provider and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). “We had quite a lot of documentation supporting all of our damage and expenses,” she says.
Here are some steps you can take now to protect your home and prepare for hurricane season.
Review coverage with your insurer
Sit down with your insurance agent to find out if you have adequate insurance for your home, car and any boats or recreational vehicles. Does your policy provide temporary housing in case your residence is uninhabitable following a storm? Do you know your deductible and any policy limits? Tropical storms can impact inland areas, too, so these questions aren’t just for those living on the coast.
Your homeowners policy may cover damage caused by hurricane winds (sometimes subject to a separate deductible). However, a standard homeowners policy does not cover flooding, which is the most common type of damage from tropical storms. Ask about purchasing a separate rider for flood coverage if needed, but understand that any changes or additions to your insurance policy may take 30 days to take effect.