If you're like me, and sustained some moderate - or more than moderate - property damage during Hurricane Irene over the past weekend, you might be considering filing a claim to recover some of your damages with your home insurer.
Before you do that, however, here are a few things to consider:
- Your claim is unlikely to be covered under the "Hurricane" endorsement of your insurance policy - Here's why: the Hurricane endorsement of many homeowners' policies isn't triggered unless and until the recognized national weather services categorize the storm as a hurricane for at least 12 hours before and 12 hours after it hits your area. And in Irene's case, the storm was downgraded to a "Tropical Storm" before that criteria was met.
- Unless your water damage was caused by a backup of the sewer system, your policy probably won't cover your losses - Most policies do not cover water damage that was caused by seepage through the foundation, because as foundations age, they settle and develop cracks that allow this to occur.
- Unless you are certain that you purchased flood insurance, chances are you don't have it - naturally, you can (and should) check with your insurance broker, but considering that a flood insurance endorsement would likely double your annual insurance premium, if you had it, you would remember it.
- Even if you have flood insurance, chances are it doesn't cover damage to your basement - this is a fine example of "fine print." Often, flood insurance only covers damage to the ground floor and above.