Friday, September 17, 2010

No Hurricanes, but a Tornado?

Here we are in the peak of Hurricane Season, and we get hit with a nasty wind and hail storm, and possibly a tornado!  If this doesn't make you question if you have the right coverage on your home insurance, then nothing will.

Most home policies have some kind of wind or hurricane deductible today.  Usually there is some kind of a starting point, such as a specific wind speed, or a certain level of a hurricane.  The wind and hurricane deductibles will mean that you have a separate deductible for wind damage.  So if you have a fire, which is a lower probability, you will have a $500 or $1000 deductible for example.  But if there is wind damage, it could be $1000, or a percentage of the insured value of your home.

So if your house is insured for $200,000, and you have a 5% deductible, you will pay for the first $10,000 of damage before your insurance company pays to fix your home.  That is a lot of money!  It is important to know what you have before you need it. If your company or broker haven't told you, you need a new company.

Why are companies doing this?  Because the "reinsurance" that they used to buy either isn't available, or has these types of clauses in their policies.  That's right, most insurance companies buy insurance themselves.  They make most of their money on the "reserves" that they invest, but can't keep enough aside to cover a major catastrophe. 

Homes cost a lot more to repair, and in NY, the population is so dense, that most companies can't handle the potential payout of a major storm.  One major company just took a 30% increase in rates because of the possibility of a major storm hitting, and them having to pay out on wind damage.  Others have restricted where they will write business.  They are all relying on some kind of a deductible to help spread their risk.

What can you do?  Call me, or fax me a copy of your policy. I will decipher the insurance language to tell you what you have.  Many companies want you to deal directly with them because they know that you won't be able to understand or read the fine print.  So they cut their rates, and leave you high and dry when you have a claim.

So act now before the next storm hits, and you have to decipher what is covered, and how much you are out of pocket on a claim!  888-900-2173

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Earl has passed, but Peak Hurricane Season is Here!

Recent heavy rains across the United States serve as another reminder that NOW is the time to protect your family, home and/or business with flood insurance. Late summer and early fall marks the beginning of peak hurricane season - the most active time of the year for hurricanes and tropical storms - and you need to be prepared should a storm hit your community in the upcoming months. Most homeowners' insurance policies do not cover flood damage and once purchased, there is typically a 30-day waiting period for a flood insurance policy to become effective. 
The Risk is Real

Hurricanes and tropical storms bring drenching rains and high winds that can cause significant damage to a home or business and its contents. The largest amounts of rainfall from hurricanes are often produced by slow moving storms that move inland. Some of the worst damage from recent hurricanes has occurred hundreds or thousands of miles from the coast - as far north as New York in the case of Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and through much of the Midwest and into Pennsylvania because of Hurricane Ike in 2008.

Earl passed by with a lot of publicity, but no punch. However, all it would take was a change in course of  a few miles to the West, and it would have been a different story.  We are way overdue for a major storm to hit, and all it would take is a tropical storm to cause local flooding.  Look at Riverhead, NY earlier this year.  Those people still aren't back in their homes, and are waiting for the government to bail them out! (Pun intended)

Costly Consequences

Eight of the top ten most expensive federally-declared disasters have been caused by hurricanes. Just inches of water can cause tens of thousands of dollars of damage and last year, the average individual flood insurance claim was nearly $28,000. Without flood insurance protection, many property owners may have to absorb the financial losses on their own, potentially draining their savings.

Protect Your Home or Business Now!

You need to get covered before a storm could impact your community and home. Flood insurance has a 30 day waiting period, and is more affordable than you may think. The average flood insurance policy is around $579 a year and in moderate-to-low-risk areas, Preferred Risk Policies start as low as $119 a year (that's equal to $10 a month or 33 cents a day

Call now to see how you can get this valuable coverage - 888-900-2173

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Your homeowners policy and storm damage-what's covered?

Here is a little Q&A about home insurance and storm damage in general.  These are the types of questions that we get, so I figured that I would answer them here. 

Q. Generally, how does my homeowners policy respond to storm damage to my property?

A. Your homeowners policy covers most losses that may occur to your dwelling and personal property. Commonly, losses resulting from theft, fire, wind, vehicles and vandalism are covered.

Q. What if there is damage because of a storm?

A. A standard homeowners policy covers storm damage to the dwelling, its contents and other structures such as garages and fences, up to the policy limit. Such damage also acts as a trigger for coverage of other consequential losses and expenses including removal of debris and loss of use.

Q. What if my family and I cannot live in our home because of the damage?

A. When storm damages make it necessary to leave your home temporarily, your home-owners policy covers the additional costs necessary to maintain your normal standard of living for such things as meals, lodging, laundry, transportation, entertainment, etc. You will need to present receipts for all of your expenses to be reimbursed.

Q. What clean-up expenses can I expect to recover following a storm?

A. Your homeowners policy will cover costs for removal of debris when covered property is damaged. This includes the removal of trees that fall on covered structures, but this coverage for trees usually is limited to $1,000 for a single storm.

Q. Am I covered for protecting my property from damage?

A. Your policy obligates you to protect your property from further damage following a loss as a condition to payment of your claim. You can expect your policy to pay for such expenses to board windows and make emergency repairs. Also, property removed from your home to protect it from an impending storm receives more comprehensive coverage than what is provided at your home—for a limited period of time, it covers flood, earthquake and any direct damage to your dislocated property without exclusions. However, the expenses to remove the property from harm’s way is not a covered expense.

Q. What damages are not covered by my homeowners policy?

A. Trees, shrubs and gardens damaged or destroyed by the storm are not covered. The spoilage of food due to an inoperative refrigerator or freezer resulting from a utility line power outage is not covered by many policies, unless the appliances are inoperative because the damage to power lines or other utility equipment occurred on your property; for example, lightning damage to your circuit box or a tree falling on power lines connected to your home.

* It is important to note that unless it has been added to your policy, there is no coverage for any damage that is a direct result of flood, surface water or water that backs up through sewers or drains that is caused by an act of nature (a storm).

Q. How can I find out what is covered in my specific circumstances?

A. The information provided here includes general guidelines for storm damage coverage. You should contact our agency for definite answers and further advice.

What to do with Earl heading our way?

It looks like the worst of Earl will stay to the East of Long Island.  If the storm takes a turn towards us, or for those of you on the East End, and in Connecticut, this is what you should do during a Hurricane
  • Listen to the radio or TV for information.
  • Secure your home, close storm shutters, and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors.
  • Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.
  • Turn off propane tanks.· Avoid using the phone, except for serious emergencies.
  • Moor your boat if time permits.
  • Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purposes such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other large containers with water.
You should evacuate under the following conditions:

  •  If you are directed by local authorities to do so. Be sure to follow their instructions.
  • If you live in a mobile home or temporary structure—such shelters are particularly hazardous during hurricanes no matter how well fastened to the ground.
  • If you live in a high-rise building—hurricane winds are stronger at higher elevations.
  • If you live on the coast, on a floodplain, near a river, or on an inland waterway.
  • If you feel you are in danger.
If you are unable to evacuate, go to your safe room. If you do not have one, follow these guidelines:
  • Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors.
  • Close all interior doors—secure and brace external doors.
  • Keep curtains and blinds closed. Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm - winds will pick up again.
  • Take refuge in a small interior room, closet, or hallway on the lowest level.
  • Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.
Good Luck, and let's hope that Earl stays out to sea, and we can have a nice Labor Day weekend to end the summer.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hurricane Earl Heads towards New York

The last thing anybody wants it to have the Labor Day Weekend washed out. But the potential of Hurricane Earl hitting us hear in New York is real. It is important to make sure that if we do get hit, even just by the outer bands, that you are ready. Putting together an emergency kit is a good idea. You don't have to go out and buy one, you can make one yourself. Here are some things that you should get according to

  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food  
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both  
  • Flashlight and extra batteries  
  • First aid kit  
  • Whistle to signal for help  
  • Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place  
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation  
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities 
  • Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)  
  • Local maps  
  • Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger  
Additional Items to Consider Adding to an Emergency Supply Kit:

  • Prescription medications and glasses  
  • Infant formula and diapers  
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet  
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container  
  • Cash or traveler's checks and change  
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container. You can use the EFFAK Emergency Financial First Aid Kit - PDF, 277Kb) developed by Operation Hope, FEMA and Citizen Corps to help you organize your information  
  • Emergency reference material such as a first aid book or information from  
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.  
  • Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.  
  • Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper – When diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
  • Fire Extinguisher  
  • Matches in a waterproof container  
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items  
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels  
  • Paper and pencil  
  • Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children  
Hopefully Earl will go back out to sea, but it is a good idea to put this together, and keep it for future use.

Find out how to keep food safe during and after and emergency by visiting: