Homeowners Advised to Prepare Ahead for Weather-Related Disasters

- Harrisburg – With June as the official start to hurricane season, the Pennsylvania Insurance Department is reminding consumers to take out their homeowner’s insurance policies to see what costs may or may not be covered in the case of weather-related damage.

Most policies do not cover repairs for routine maintenance or wear and tear, but will cover damage to the structure of your home if it is damaged by fire, hurricane, hail, lightning or other disasters listed in your policy.
Most standard policies also cover structures that are detached from your home such as a garage, tool shed or gazebo. Generally, these structures are covered for about 10 percent of the amount of insurance you have on the structure of your home. Also, when purchasing coverage for the structure of your home, it is important to buy enough to rebuild your home.
Keep in mind, your policy will not pay for damage caused by flooding, earthquake, mudslides or sink holes. Coverage for those risks must be purchased separately.
It usually takes 30 days for newly purchased flood insurance policies to go into effect, so the ideal time to buy a policy is long before flooding is in the forecast.

Overflowing creeks or ponds or water running down a steep hill are potential events that could put a home at risk to being damaged by flooding. Some floods develop slowly while others, such as flash floods, can turn up in a matter of minutes.

Consumers should know the following about flood insurance:

Premiums will vary, depending on the risk level for a flood loss.
Policies can be purchased for physical damage to a property, and a separate policy can also be purchased for the contents.
Foundational elements and items usually located in a basement for making a home habitable, such as furnaces and water heaters, generally are covered.
Finished elements in a basement, such as paneling, rugs and furniture, are not covered.

Homeowners, renters and businesses now have the option to purchase flood insurance from either a surplus lines carrier or through the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program, NFIP. Their website offers online resources for consumers to rate their flood risk, estimate annual premiums and find a list of agents based on location.

Flood insurance premiums are based on the risk assessment associated with the property. Information on how to obtain flood insurance, and determine your risk for flooding, can be found at http://www.floodsmart.gov or by calling 1-888-379-9531.

More information on Pennsylvania insurance products is available at http://www.insurance.pa.gov.

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