As Storm Season Shifts Into High Gear, Homeowners Urged to Be Prepared

September 7, 2012

As hurricane season shifts into high gear, the Maryland Insurance Administration is reminding consumers that September is Disaster Preparedness Month.

Maryland regulators are advising homeowners to check what their insurance policy covers if the property is damaged. After Hurricane Irene in August 2011, insurance carriers paid more than $400 million as a result of filed claims in Maryland.

After the skies cleared, many Marylanders who filed claims learned that special deductibles applied, regulators stated. These deductibles could add thousands of dollars to the policyholder’s share of repair costs.

A house in Braithwaite, Louisiana, lies in water on Sep. 6, 2012, after flood waters topped the levee. Photo: Patsy Lynch/FEMA
And when Tropical Storm Isabel moved through the state in 2003, people realized too late that damage from flooding is not covered under most homeowners insurance policies.

Flood insurance is available through the National Flood Insurance Program and some private insurers. Generally, there is a 30-day waiting period before new policies take effect.

Maryland urges homeowners to avoid getting caught off guard by the insurance coverage this hurricane season. For Disaster Preparedness Month in September, Maryland Insurance Commissioner Therese Goldsmith encourages all Marylanders to read their insurance policies carefully.

The Maryland Insurance Administration offers guides and general information about insurance coverage at community outreach events and online. The insurance agent or insurance company can help to explain specifically what is covered by the policy and what is not.

Maryland regulators offered the following recommendations to homeowners to prepare for disaster:

• Inventory one’s home. Whenever possible, take photos or videos to support any claim that may need to be filed later. Smartphone users can download a free home inventory application, myHOME Scr.APP.book, from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

• Determine if the home is insured to its full replacement cost.

• Keep the policy information in a waterproof, fireproof safe or off-site, such as in a safe deposit box, or scan it and save it to a flash drive and keep it in an emergency kit.

• Consider purchasing flood insurance. Coverage is as low as $129 a year. Visit www.FloodSmart.gov or call 1-888-379-9531 for more information.

Source: Maryland Insurance Administration

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