“If you don't like the weather, just wait a minute.”
If you’ve lived in the Austin area for any length of time, you know how true this quote is. But jokes aside, our unpredictable weather can sometimes be dangerous—or even deadly.
It’s always good to have a disaster plan in place to ensure you are prepared from a safety standpoint. www.redcross.org has a tremendous number of resources to help protect you and your family. Secondly, you’ll also want a comprehensive plan of action to mitigate any damage to your home and property.
How do you know if your homeowner’s insurance will cover storm damage?
According to Anne Archambeault, owner of Rollo Insurance in Dripping Springs, every homeowner’s policy is different. That’s why it’s important to have an agent who is well-versed on your coverage and the policy’s limitations.
“You should be meeting with your insurance agent annually to go over your policy and they should be asking you if you have made any changes since it was initially quoted,” said Anne. “For instance, your agent needs to know whether you’ve put in a pool, hot tub, deck, water tank or shed or have replaced the floors, roof, HVAC, plumbing, electrical, etc. to ensure you have appropriate coverage. Also, read the exclusions on your policy carefully, as some carriers have exclusions in the fine print. For example, some carriers will not cover wind driven rain if your roof is not damaged and water enters your home and damages your ceiling and walls. Also, if your roof is 15 years or older, your roof will be replaced at its depreciated cost not full replacement cost. If your home gets struck by lightning and you don't have the equipment breakdown endorsement - you will not have the coverage necessary to replace any appliances or electronics. A power surge frying your electronics, a boiler cracking due to low water conditions, and short-circuit damage to your appliances are all examples of electrical or mechanical breakdown that would be covered by equipment breakdown coverage.
Do I need additional homeowner’s insurance coverage for a natural disaster?
Though drought-like conditions are common in the Austin area, we have also seen the devastation flooding rains can inflict. In 2015, those along the Blanco River saw homes literally float away. Sadly, most general homeowner’s insurance policies would not have covered this situation. Exploring additional coverage may be the key to protecting your home investment.
“Talk to your agent and ask questions,” said Anne. “That agent should be educating you on what they think you need. If your home is written with the correct coverages, then you should be protected. If you sustain a complete loss, it is essential to make sure you have the correct replacement cost on your home to rebuild your home.”
According to Anne, “while some people opt for named peril policies, named peril policies only cover the specific type of damage or loss that's stated by “name” in your policy- read your policy for the named perils that your policy will cover. The best option is an open peril policy which covers anything that can happen to your home. If you add an additional replacement cost (25% or 50%), this will cover the inflation if your home can't be rebuilt due to the inflation in the market (ie building materials, cost of labor, etc.).”
Will my business need insurance coverage in the case of a damaging storm?
Even if your storefront isn’t directly damaged, your business may suffer from related issues such as power outages. You may want to consider purchasing a business interruption policy to protect you from loss of income. And what if you office out of your home? How will your coverage address damage to your workspace in the case of a natural disaster?
“If you are a business owner, make sure you have enough personal property coverage for all of your equipment, furniture and business essential items,” says Anne. “If you own a small business, you should have coverage for any office space, personal property and the correct liability limits, especially if you are ever found negligent or at fault. If you are a builder, read your exclusions - as coverage might not extend past the time you finish building. If you are using your car for work to visit job sites, , you should have a commercial auto policy to cover you.”
“Incidentally,” said Anne, “disaster is not just weather related. A business owner can lose a loved one, become sick or disabled, or have their business interrupted by an unforeseen event. There are coverages available for every type of business facing these issues. Also, workers compensation is not required in Texas, but you as a business owner need to plan in case one of your employees gets injured on the job and has expenses that need to be covered. ”
According to Anne, “it is not about price shopping. The right coverage plus the right carrier equals the right price! My true belief is that your agent should consider you as if you were family. It is not just contacting you when it is renewal time, or a bill is due - they should be helping you in all situations.”
Anne Archambeault owns Rollo Insurance of Dripping Springs. Located at 1322 W Hwy 290 Suite A Dripping, the agency provides insurance for home, auto, farm & ranch, commercial, group life, health, and benefits. Visit them online at www.insurancedrippingsprings.com or contact Anne via email at [email protected].