When hurricanes make landfall, they usually bring with them high winds and high water levels. The forces that combine to result in powerful weather systems can spell doom for homeowners. With the arrival of Hurricane Matthew, many people are taking a closer look at their insurance policies. Unfortunately, many people are also discovering that their homeowner’s insurance does not cover as much as they had hoped it would.
Property damage after a hurricane can be difficult to deal with because the damage is often caused by a variety of factors (wind, water, flooding) as opposed to any single cause. A large amount of homeowner and commercial property owner insurance covers wind and rain damages, but they generally do not cover flood damage. Flood damage, for the most part, is usually covered by the National Flood Insurance Program.
The National Flood Insurance Program
The National Flood Insurance Program is a federally run insurance program created by the United States Congress in 1968. The main goal of the program is to “provide flood insurance protection to property owners, in return for local government commitment to sound floodplain management and related flood disaster mitigation efforts.”
Since its enactment, the NFIP has provided insurance to individuals with a focus on those people who live in areas where flood damage is more common. The program often runs in correlation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide assistance for people who are affected by natural disasters like hurricanes.
Any detailed explanation of your coverage will require an in-depth review of your individual policy, but common insurance policies generally cover similar things.
· Homeowners – Homeowners insurance policies will usually cover damages that occurred as a result of wind and rain. Some policies will contain clauses that exclude coverage of specific situations such as “wind driven rain” unless some damage to the home allowed rain to enter the building. Even if your policy covers wind and rain damage, it is very rare that a homeowners policy will cover flood damage.
· Flood – Most flood insurance policies are extensions of the NFIP even if you purchased the policy from your insurance provider. It should be noted that these programs often involve required action by the policy holder and strict requirements you must fulfill before you can collect benefits.
Because insurance claims following hurricane damage often involve so many different forms of damage, it is highly recommended that you obtain the assistance of a legal professional who is well trained and familiar with insurance law. They will be able to guide you through the process and will be able to offer expertise and support.