AAA advises homeowners and motorists to review insurance policies ahead of hurricane season.

Hamilton, NJ – A year and a half after super storm Sandy, the largest Atlantic tropical system on record, made landfall into the New Jersey Coast, residents and businesses continue to rebuild, reopen and prepare for another Atlantic hurricane season.

In its 2014 Atlantic hurricane season outlook, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is forecasting a near-normal or below-normal season this year.  For the six-month hurricane season, which begins June 1, NOAA’s Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook says there is a 70 percent likelihood of 13 to 20 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 7 to 11 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 6 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher).  These numbers are near or below the seasonal averages of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes, based on the average from 1981 to 2010.

“Nearly two years later, Hurricane Sandy is still fresh in everyone’s mind, from residents and businesses, to summer visitors ready to return to the Jersey shore,” said Tracy Noble, spokesperson  for AAA Mid-Atlantic.  “And while many would sooner forget the devastation, the beginning of another hurricane season has many wondering whether or not they have the proper insurance should a storm again affect the east coast.”

As the 2014 Hurricane Season begins, many homeowners want to better understand what their homeowner’s insurance policy covers in the event of a hurricane and if there is time to make changes to see that they are adequately protected

AAA recommends homeowners and motorists alike review their existing policies and consult with their insurance agent to better understand what, if any, changes should be made ahead of an active hurricane season.

Insurance coverage and understanding what is covered (or not) can be tricky. Here are the basics:

  • Private homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage, but it should cover any damage caused by hurricane winds.
  • Check your homeowner’s policy to see if you have a hurricane deductible. Hurricane deductibles are clearly listed on your policy Declaration Page.  It’s important to note that hurricane specific deductibles are triggered only when certain criteria are met (e.g., after the National Weather Service has determined a Category 1 storm has made landfall) and vary by state and insurer so it’s important to check with the agent or insurance company representative.
  • Flood damage is not covered by standard homeowner’s policies.  Any hurricane damage from water, not wind, is covered by flood insurance, which must be purchased separately through the federally run National Flood Insurance Program.
  • There are two kinds of flood insurance for consumers: one for buildings and one for personal property.
  • Flood insurance doesn’t apply to all the losses you might incur from a hurricane, including some items of high value. So if a storm surge sweeps your stock certificates, money, or precious metals out to sea, they won't be covered. Also, insurance doesn’t cover damage to your yard or structures in it, such as decks, fences, or swimming pools. A flood insurance policy won’t cover living expenses either, if you have to pay for temporary housing.
  • There’s a 30-day waiting period before flood insurance will go into effect.

o   Building policies cover structural damage, to the exterior and foundation, as well as damage to certain, semi-permanent indoor items, such as paneling, heating and cooling systems, carpet, and built-in appliances. Building policies can cover up to $250,000.

o   Personal property insurance can cover up to $100,000 in damages, and typically applies to portable items. For instance, furniture, clothing, and electronics are considered “personal property,” as are portable appliances, washers and dryers, and artwork.

  • Storm damage to your vehicle would be covered by the comprehensive coverage of your auto insurance policy.