RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – In past two weeks, we’ve become all too familiar with the damage Hurricane Harvey inflicted on the Gulf Coast.
And with Hurricane Irma poised to strike and Tropical Storm Jose now developing out in the Atlantic, it’s important to review your insurance coverage while you still have time.
Your home is, by far, the biggest investment most of us make and when a natural disaster like a hurricane hits, you’re biggest concern can be – “Am I going to be covered for any damage?”
Hurricane Matthew brought devastating flooding to a number of North Carolina’s counties.
And Harvey reinforced that lesson on flooding.
On the Gulf Coast, record rains from Harvey show flooding can happen in places that might never flood and you need to think about that.
“What people don’t realize is, anybody, anywhere in North Carolina can buy a flood insurance policy,” says North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey. “You can live at the top of the mountain and buy flood insurance policy/”
But, you should know if you buy flood insurance today, there’s a 30-day waiting period until it goes into effect.
ADDING RIDERS TO YOUR COVERAGE
Many homeowners think they’re covered just by having insurance.
But, to be truly covered you need to pay for a rider that gives you full replacement costs.
“That’s very important because you won’t suffer depreciation losses if you have replacement coverage,” says Causey. You can purchase full replacement riders for both homeowners and automobile insurance.
Causey says there are other riders too that you can add, for example to cover the things like jewelry.
PROOF OF OWNERSHIP
To get things replaced, you need proof.
Photos or videos of your possessions are the best. You can shoot them with your smartphone and place the photos in the cloud or some other safe location you can access in case you need them.
You should also keep records of major purchases.
Copies of those records need to kept in a place you can access in case your home is destroyed.
“I’ve been through this personally and when you make that claim, all the insurance company wants to know when did you buy that item, how much did you pay for it and what month and year did you buy it,” says Causey.
If you end up filing a claim, be prepared to wait.
After Matthew, the insurance commissioner says 99.9 percent of the claims relating to that storm were settled with-in five months. Although that’s quick by insurance standards, that’s a long time if you’re the one waiting for relief.
The insurance commissioner has a hotline you can call with insurance problems or questions.
It’s staffed by people who specialize in Property and Casualty Insurance, Life and Health insurance, or specialty policies like Travel insurance.
The state department of insurance also has a guide to homeowners insurance.
The department also has advice for consumers about general insurance questions.
Email CBS North Carolina’s Steve Sbraccia if you have a consumer issue.