It's hurricane season. Even while memories of superstorm Sandy are still fresh, complacency sets in.
Instead of denying that Mother Nature could be cruel again, ask questions.
Am I adequately covered? Review your homeowner's policy. Verify that policy limits are accurate based on the current value of real and personal property.
Assess what's covered and what's not. "Too many people have a 'set it and forget it' mindset and find out too late that they are not covered or partially covered, which can significantly impact their finances," says Ann Myhr of The Institutes, an insurance industry educational organization in Malvern, Pennsylvania.
Replacement or cash value? Most policies cover full replacement cost -- the actual cost to replace the damaged parts of a home.
However, some insurers sell lesser "actual cash value" policies that only cover the depreciated cost of the damaged portions, warns Jeff Raizner, an attorney with Houston's Doyle Raizner. For example, if you have an older roof, you may only receive a fraction of the full cost to replace it.
Does my policy cover floods? Flooding is the most common cause of loss, but it is not covered by most policies. "Talk to your agent about purchasing a separate policy from the National Flood Insurance Program, even if you're not in a coastal area," says Timothy Arone, vice president of risk management with the PURE Group of Insurance Companies in White Plains.
How can I avoid headaches? Steve Klinzing, a State Farm agent in Bayport, advises creating a home inventory and documenting your possessions and their estimated value, electronically or the old-school way.
Remember lightning does strike twice -- Irene, Sandy.