Understanding your insurance policy can reduce stress after a storm

By Carol Ostrow | | Jun 20, 2018

Because homeowners’ insurance policies are complex by nature, consumers need to be well prepared and clearly understand details of their coverage in advance of any incidents requiring the filing of a claim.

Residents are advised to work with insurance companies that strive to keep them both informed and adequately protected with the most economically feasible options. Taking a proactive approach not only renders residents better equipped materially, but also protects them ahead of time should a natural disaster occur. 

Chicago-based Kin Insurance Inc., for example, partners with MyStrongHome, a company specializing in bringing roofs up to code to qualify homes for wind mitigation discounts.

“Qualified Kin customers (those with older or damaged roofs) can apply to get a brand new roof and/or hurricane opening protection financed at little to no upfront cost through our partnership with MyStrongHome,” Anthony Tornatore, who serves as Kin's director of insurance product management, recently told Baldwin Park Today. “The average customer can save about $1,000 on their annual homeowner's insurance premium with the new wind mitigation credits.”

Homeowners should provide photos or videos of property damage to their insurers as soon as possible.   File photo

Consumers may have the impression that their policies are one-size-fits-all, but knowing the difference between coverage for wind damage vs. that of water damage is critical to peace of mind. There are vital distinctions between reparations for wind damage and water damage, depending on both cause and degree.

For example, homeowners can invest in flood insurance via an agent or an insurer who participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Without such protection, an owner's home and belongings may not be replaceable under conventional homeowners’ policies.

“Flood insurance … cannot be purchased from the NFIP directly,” Tornatore said. “As a result, we will try to provide flood insurance for clients through the NFIP where they do not already have the coverage."

To create documentation following a disaster, homeowners should provide photos or videos recording their property damage, sending images or files to their insurers as soon as possible -- even when power and/or phone lines are out of service.

After Hurricane Irma in Florida, for example, Kin used texting capabilities to stay in touch with customers and allow them to send photos of their damaged property.

With the right advance information and familiarity with post-storm protocol, homeowners can rest easier knowing what’s covered by their property insurance umbrella.

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