First, we hope this article finds you safe and sound.
Our hearts go out to all those affected by Hurricane Florence and the subsequent flooding issues.
We understand that most of you are interested in filing insurance claims to help recover from the storm.
Unfortunately, between the generalized news media & the scattered nature of online information, it can be quite a hassle to get the information you need about insurance.
That's why we wrote this all-encompassing article for you – so you can get back in the swing of normal life as quickly as possible!
Your Homeowners Insurance Policy & Hurricane Florence
Unfortunately, a homeowners insurance policy will not typically cover flood damage like we've seen during Hurricane Florence. In fact, policies don't cover flooding at all.
Luckily though, you can buy flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program
. Of course, this is something you would have had to have done before the hurricane hitting Wilmington.
To plan for the future, it's a great idea to consider buying this insurance, which you can usually do through your normal home insurance agent. The best test to see whether you need this extra expense is to simply consider how much flooding, if any, you had during Hurricane Florence.
Every storm is different though, so it's worth considering paying for flood insurance even if you had no issues with this hurricane. This is especially true for residents of a coastal town like our beautiful Wilmington, NC.
After The Storm Hits – How To File An Insurance Claim
If Hurricane Florence damaged your home or other property, our hearts go out to you sincerely. We hope that your insurance will help foot the bill for most, if not all, the damage. In order for that to happen though, you must file an insurance claim.
Here are a few of our best tips for doing so:
- File the claim as soon as you can. Your provider will generally process the claims in the order they came in, so the quicker you file, the quicker you'll be able to have your repairs done.
- Write down your claim number and keep it in a convenient location until the insurance company settles your claim. This will make sure that you'll have all the information you need on hand when your insurance provider calls you about the claim, which they undoubtedly will.
- Keep track of all receipts related to expenses during or after the hurricane. This includes things such as food, gas, travel expenses, hotel costs, etc. There's a chance your insurance company will reimburse you for these expenses, and it's always worth a try.
- Take photos or videos of the damages before repair. This helps prove your claim's validity. Additionally, it's helpful to record the date in these photos, by including a view of something timely like a newspaper in the shot.
- Call your auto insurance agent if you have any damage to your car from flooding or fallen trees.
- If you have no insurance, reach out to groups such as FEMA. You can do this by downloading their app to your phone, or by calling 1-800-621-3362. They can help provide things such as temporary housing, home repairs, legal help and crisis counseling.
How does flood insurance work?
As we mentioned above, it's too late to get flood insurance to cover Hurricane Florence at this point. But, so you're informed for future storms, there is a 30-day waiting period for flood insurance coverage.
This means that you shouldn't wait until the last second to buy it, or else it won't help at all. Another thing to keep in mind is that you have to renew this policy every year.
What happens if you don't have flood insurance?
Sadly, if you don't have flood insurance, it's likely that you'll need to pay for the damages yourself. Though it most likely won't cover all the expenses, FEMA offers a $5,000 disaster grant (one per household). It's certainly better than nothing!
Much like flood insurance, many homeowner policies will not cover windstorm insurance. This is especially true if you live in a hurricane-prone area like Wilmington. Luckily, you can still buy a separate windstorm insurance policy in this area.
If you're currently renting, it is a mistake to think your landlord's insurance policy will cover you. If you're in this position, you'll need to buy a separate renter's insurance policy for the insurance company to cover you.
Similarly, if you live in a condo, you are not entirely insured by the condo association's policy. Most often, their coverage extends only up to the exterior walls of the condo. This means you are responsible for the interior walls and everything else inside the unit. You can buy a personal condo insurance policy if you are in this position.
Neal Johnson is a CMCA, CRB, CNE and GRI-certified, licensed real estate broker at Network Real Estate, which has exclusively served a high volume of property sales and purchases in the greater Wilmington area for more than 30 years. With three offices at College Road, historic downtown Wilmington and Pleasure Island, Network’s brokers are widespread and well-versed in this marketplace, making Network a preferred real estate company for first-time homebuyers and beyond.