We were so lucky that our house didn't sustain damage during the latest storm. But I'm hearing about neighbors and friends battling with their insurance carriers. I'm concerned more than ever about what my homeowner's policy covers and what it doesn't. What do I need to know?
If this recent storm doesn't make you dust off your homeowner's insurance policy, then nothing will. It's vital to understand the basic components of your policy says, Tim O'Brien, director of private client services for Cook, Hall & Hyde, an East Hampton insurance agency. The devil is always in the details. For starters, here's what to look for:
1. The Declaration's or "dec" page: a summary of vital coverage info
2. Residential or dwelling coverage: Do you have enough to repair or rebuild your home in its current location in case of fire or other damage?
3. Personal Property or Contents Coverage: This will cover new clothes, furniture and bedding that is destroyed by smoke or fire, for example.
4. Additional Living Expenses: will cover your stay in a hotel or a rental if your home becomes uninhabitable
5. Liability Protection: covers you if the mail carrier trips on your kids' outdoor toys, or if your dog bites the neighbor
6. Umbrella Policy: covers your homeowner's and car insurance policies in $1 million increments over the basic amount
7. Flood Insurance: Flood-related losses are excluded under standard policies, even if you are not in a flood zone. If you are in a flood zone, you must purchase a separate policy. The program is called the National Flood Insurance Program, and it is run by the Federal Emergency Management Association. Go to floodsmart.gov for more information.