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8 things to know about hurricane insurance coverage

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Tampa Bay was lucky this time around with minimal damage from Hurricane Dorian.

But as Floridians, we all know this won’t be the last storm.

Keeping your valuables safe is a top priority but often the task gets lost in the hectic shuffle of hurricane prep.

As the storm clears, now is the time to check on your insurance policies to be sure you are covered against hurricane damage.

8 On Your Side’s Lila Gross got 8 tips from Chip Merlin, President of Merlin Law Group, about what to do today to protect you tomorrow.

Here are 8 things you should consider when it comes to hurricane insurance.

PROFESSIONAL INSURANCE AGENT – An agent will actually save you money by finding you the cheapest options and making sure you’re fully covered.

FULL REPLACEMENT COST AS POLICY LIMIT – This is not the amount you pay for home or condo. instead its the full reconstruction price to rebuild it brand new.

FLOOD INSURANCE – The most common cause of total destruction in a hurricane is from the storm surge and floodwaters. It’s also the one coverage excluded under most policies. So, you have to buy a separate policy covering damage caused by flood or storm surge. Flood coverage is usually under the National Flood Insurence Program, but today there’s a growing private insurance option for less expensive coverage.

EXCESS FLOOD INSURANCE – The National Flood Insurence Program will pay up to $250,000 for a home and $500,000 for a commercial building. The problem is what happens if your home or business costs more than that to replace following a hurricane with flood damage? Most people don’t know you can buy insurance to cover the full damage through “excess flood insurance coverage”. These policies can pay up to the full replacement cost to fix.

LAW AND ORDINANCE COVERAGE – Building codes have changed significantly so that you often cannot rebuild your home back to the way it was before. To cover the additional cost of your insurance policy has to have law and ordinance coverage. Older homes have more to update to comply with new building laws and will cost you more without this coverage.

DEDUCTIBLES – Hurricanes often have a special deductible that is much higher than a typical one from $250-$1000. For example, if you try to save money with a 5 percent hurricane deductible that means a typical home costs $250,000 to rebuild and you will have to come out of pocket with $25,000 – which most people can’t afford. So, keep your deductible lower by trying to limit it to no more than 2 percent.

DOCUMENTATION – Document your home and belongings immediately before the storm. Everyone has a cell phone and five minutes to video record the inside of every room, closet and outside of your home. This will help remind you of items that may be missing or destroyed and prevents the insurance company from questioning the ownership of your items.

DON’T SKIMP! – Everyone sees funny advertisements trying to lure you into purchasing discount “cheap” insurance. The truth is, many policies are cheap because they pay a lot less and have limits or exclusions which will leave you far from being fully insured.

Watch the video below to hear common mistakes and misconceptions about hurricane insurance.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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