Last week I wrote about the unpredictability of Mother Nature, evidenced by the unusual Tropical Storm Alberto. While it’s always nice to be right, I never want it to be at the expense of others. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened. A second tropical storm, Beryl, formed in the Western Atlantic ruining many Memorial Day celebrations in North Florida and Southern Georgia (including mine as I spent most of the weekend visiting family in Jacksonville).
That means we have now had two named storms this year and the “season” doesn’t even begin until tomorrow. While last week’s post focused on preparation from a standpoint of stockpiling supplies, this week I want to make sure you prepare in another way – check your policy.
In April, I took my wife to New Orleans to celebrate our 1st wedding anniversary. While there, we visited with my wife’s aunt who lived through Hurricane Katrina. Because this was my first visit to New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina, the conversation naturally included her experience. Not surprisingly, her house was almost completely destroyed, as were her belongings and many pieces of antique furniture she accumulated over the years. While her insurance company paid for the necessary repairs, she found out too late that she was severely underinsured for her contents. The insurance company paid the policy limits, but the limits were insufficient to replace the antiques. Long story short – she was never able to replace much of what she owned.
This is a scenario I see all too often. Many times, policyholders concern themselves with the insurance limits for the dwelling – the amount that it would take to rebuild their home. What many fail to do is ensure that they have enough coverage to allow them to replace all of their belongings if they are faced with a total loss. Don’t allow yourself to be in the position of my wife’s aunt. After a loss is too late to learn what type of coverage you have. With the hurricane season already upon us, check your policy now. A simple look at the declarations page will tell you what your policy limits are. Ensure that the amounts you have, especially for contents, are sufficient, while keeping in mind that contents add up quickly. While many people account for big ticket items like couches and televisions, remember that contents also include things like dishes, hanging mirrors, refrigerators and other appliances, and perhaps most importantly, clothes. Spend a little time going through your house to determine what it would really cost to replace what you have.
You still have time to contact your insurance company to add coverage. While it will likely cost more, that relatively small increase now could save huge headaches later. You will know, at the very least, what you can expect from your insurer as we enter a hurricane season that is already throwing curve balls at us.