The last few years have really packed a punch when it comes to weather and natural disasters. From Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy to the wildfires that burned out of control in this summer, tornadoes that touch down annually in Tornado Alley and earthquakes that rattle the west coast nearly every day, natural disasters can wreak havoc on your property investment. Although we may not think much about our homeowners insurance until we need it, I encourage each of you to take the time this fall to take out your insurance policy and really examine the details. In fact, having a face-to-face meeting with your insurance agent and having a discussion about these details can help your peace of mind. Here are some clauses to consider:
- Fire – Most insurance policies cover fire damage, but what about smoke damage? What about a fire in your home which resulted in your neighbor’s home being on fire? What if an appliance malfunctioned?
- Water – Water is one of the most damaging elements when it comes to property. Flooding from a nearby spring, gutters that cannot adequately divert a sudden storm or even interior pipes bursting or leaking can cause major damage. Hail and ice damage is also something that you may want to know if you are covered for. Some areas even require a separate flood policy.
- Wind – Wind from tornadoes, hurricanes, and storms can cause major damage. Roof tiles can rip off, windows can break, and trees can fall. What damage is likely to happen in your area and are you covered?
- Lightning – Are you covered if lightning strikes your house? What if it strikes nearby and causes damage? What if it causes a power surge and damages your appliances?
- Earthquakes – Believe it or not, earthquake damage isn’t usually included in standard property insurance policies in many areas. The deductible may also be high (10%-25% of your home’s value in some cases), but if your home were completely destroyed in an earthquake, that cost will seem paltry.
- Tsunami, Volcanos, or Landslides – Of course, whether you need these or not will depend on where you live, but are you covered?
Don’t be afraid to use “what if” scenarios like these to make sure you really understand what is in your policy. A question like, “If there is a windstorm and there is a tree in my yard that falls on my neighbor’s house, who is responsible and am I covered?” can be very telling. Think about the property claims your neighbors and people in the area have had to think about what could befall you.
As your real estate agent, it is my job to keep an eye on what is likely your greatest investment. I don’t mean to scare you or cause unnecessary worry, but I do want you to be prepared and covered. If you have any questions or would like additional information, please give me a call at (206) 790-0081 or send an email to email@example.com.