Homeowners should review insurance before it's too late

May 23, 2012 at 12:23 a.m.

Know your coverage, and know it now.

That was the advice of State Farm Agent Bruce Woods, who said he has experienced every peril insurable, just short of an earthquake.

When it comes to hurricanes, Woods said, homeowners should put a review of their insurance next to "pay taxes" on their list of April must-dos.

"Review your current plan, and if you don't have one, start one today," he said. "Do not put the planning off."

Woods said homeowners should be aware of the 80/20 rule, which is a nod to the 80-20 map coordinates. As soon as a named storm in the Gulf of Mexico passes those coordinates, insurance companies don't take any new business.

"You're not allowed to do anything other than wait," Woods said.

So before then, Woods provided a checklist of things all homeowners should discuss with their insurance agents.

Loss of use coverage. These will be additional living expenses you may incur if your home is damaged. They could include a hotel, eating out or dry cleaning, and insurance companies may give you a percentage of your dwelling costs, a certain dollar amount or a time limit for reimbursement.

Mandatory evacuation. Some plans cover evacuation expenses, some don't.

Deductibles. Some companies have a tropical storm or cyclone deductible along with one for hail or winds. Homeowners should be prepared for whatever deductible they might face.

Coverage limits. Some plans call for replacement costs while others cover depreciated value.

Other options. Find out if you have debris removal or food spoilage covered, for example.

Woods advised homeowners to take digital pictures of all their belongings, keep serial numbers and make sure they keep all receipts of things the insurance company could reimburse. Know your account numbers to your utilities and keep cash on hand, as ATMs will likely be down or empty in the event of a hurricane.

Finally, homeowners should take care to protect their tax records, bank statements and other important documents. Woods advised people to take their records with them if they evacuate.



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