Thursday, March 17, 2011

$500, $1000, $2500, 3% Wind, 5% named storm, what is my true deductible?

There seems to be more an more confusion about deductibles on home insurance.  Different companies have put different thresholds for wind and hurricane deductibles in New York.  Many homeowners have no idea of how much they would have to pay if they had damage in a severe windstorm, Nor'easter, or Hurricane.

Deductibles, what are they?

First let's start with what is a deductible.  It is the amount of money that you would be responsible to pay before a claim is paid by your insurance.  Most people have a $500 or $1000 deductible.  If you have less than that, you are probably paying too much for your insurance.  You can usually save $100 a year if you go from a $250 deductible to a $500.  So if you have a claim, you pay the first $500 instead of $250, so you will save the difference if you go three years without a claim.  In many cases, it doesn't save enough to go over a $1000 deductible on a home policy.

Wind & Hail Versus Named Storm

After Hurricanes Andrew, Katrina, and Rita, many companies realized that they couldn't handle the volume of claims without greatly increasing the cost of home insurance policies.  Many companies put a named Hurricane deductible in place. They all have different thresholds as to when they come in, so there could be large differences in the premiums.  The percentage can be from anywhere between 2% and 5%.

For example, Allstate Insurance Company and State Farm Insurance Company both have a 5% Named Storm, or Hurricane deductible.  The Allstate Deductible starts when there is a named storm with sustained winds of 100mph for a certain period of time.  The State Farm deductible is for ANY Hurricane.  You might be able to save $100 a year with the State Farm policy, but if a normal Hurricane does damage with winds of 75mph, you will have to pay 5% of the insured value versus your normal $500 Deductible.

Insured Value            State Farm Ded.                  Allstate Ded.

$300,000                      $15,000                                $500

Other companies have an even more stringent deductible and apply it to ALL Wind Storms.  The percentages are usually less, 2-3%, but they are in effect for any storm, depending on the threshold on your policy.  So in the example above, it could be a Nor'easter with 75mph winds, and the deductible would be $6,000 to $9,000, where the above companies would be the normal $500 deductibles.  Some companies have the deductible with no threshold, so you are responsible for any wind claims below the deductible.

What do I do?

Unfortunately, unless you know how to read the details of your policy, you might not know what your deductible is until you have a claim.  Some are clearly written, but others are buried in the endorsements section of your policy.  Currently the Professional Insurance Agents Association, and the State Insurance Department are looking to standardize the deductibles, but you need to do something before Hurricane Season starts.

Fax, mail, or email me your policy, and I will help you determine what your deductible is, so you can be prepared.  We work with companies with that have low Hurricane Deductibles with High Thresholds.  They also have great rates.  Happy Spring Everyone.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Flooding Awareness Week

You can't turn on the news this week without hearing about all of the devastating flooding in our area.  Westchester, the Bronx, New Jersey, and many other places are seeing the results of the heavy rains and melting snow from a record breaking winter.  People who have lived in their homes for 30+ years are suffering flood damage for the first time.

Flood Awareness Week comes at a time when flood risks are heightened due to a number of contributing factors: spring snowmelt, ice jam, heavy rains or flash flooding. Flooding is always a major concern, especially in the spring. This is the time to review your risks and ask yourself why it is important to purchase flood insurance. 

Why should I purchase flood insurance?
  • Floods are the most common natural disaster.
  • Most homeowners, condominium, manufactured home, renters and business insurance policies exclude losses due to flood.
  • Flooding is the most costly natural disaster in the U.S., causing nearly $24 billion of property damage over the last 10 years.
  • Just an inch of water can cause costly damage to your property.
  • A car can easily be carried away by just two feet of floodwater.
  • Your home has a 26 percent chance of being damaged by a flood during the course of a 30-year mortgage.
  • Government assistance is sometimes available, but only if the disaster is declared a state or federal disaster, and the assistance is usually in the form of a loan.
  • A federal disaster loan of $50,000 will be paid back at $240 a month at four percent interest while the average flood insurance policy costs $500 a year.  
What if my flood risk appears to be low?

  • Everyone lives in a flood zone - anywhere it rains, it can flood.  
  • Flooding is not limited to coastal areas. Floods and flash floods happen in all 50 states.
  • Approximately 25 percent of all flooding events occur outside Standard Flood Hazard Areas.
  • If you live in a low-to-moderate risk area and are eligible for the Preferred Risk Policy, your flood insurance premium may be as low as $129 a year, including coverage for your property's contents.
  • Just because you haven't experienced a flood in the past, doesn't mean you won't in the future. Flood risk isn't just based on history, it's also based on a number of factors: rainfall, river-flow and tidal-surge data, topography, flood-control measures, and changes due to building and development.
What causes flooding?
  • Many conditions can result in a flood: hurricanes, broken levees, outdated or clogged drainage systems and rapid accumulation of rainfall.
  • New land development can also increase flood risk, especially if the construction changes natural run-off paths.
  • Floods often happen when bodies of water overflow or tides rise due to heavy rainfall or thawing snow. Flash floods may occur without warning when a large volume of water falls in a short time.

With everything going on with changing weather patterns, increased rain fall, and severe storms happening more often than in the past, now is the time to consider purchasing flood insurance.  The increase in claims in the past two years has been eye openening, and having a claim that isn't covered is the last thing that you want to experience.  Give us a call today, so we can get you a quote on flood insurance.  Remember, it takes 30 days for a policy to start! 888-900-2173