Keith Magill / Executive Editor Houma Courier
Hurricane season started Sunday, and one of the most important things you can do now is make sure you have the right insurance coverage on your home or business.
Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon is conducting his annual statewide public awareness campaign to encourage preparation for hurricane season, which continues through Nov. 30.
'Louisiana was fortunate to have a mild hurricane season last year, and while we hope for a mild season as forecast this year, by no means should we become complacent,' Donelon said in a news release. 'Hurricane Isaac in 2012 was only a Category 1 storm, but the losses in southeast Louisiana amounted to insurers paying out about $750 million in homeowners claims with another $330 million in flood claims being paid by the National Flood Insurance Program.'
Donelon advises property owners to take the following three steps to prepare for hurricane season:
Review your insurance coverage and deductibles. Wind damage is usually covered under your homeowners policy with a separate wind and hail, named-storm or hurricane deductible, typically 2-5 percent of the insured value of a property.
A law enacted after hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008 lessens the impact the policyholder must bear when multiple storms cause damage to an insured property during a single storm season or calendar year.
But policyholders should be prepared for the expenses they will have to pay out-of-pocket in the event that their properties experience storm damage.
If you don't already have it, look into flood insurance. Losses due to flooding are not covered under typical homeowners and business insurance policies. If you do have flood insurance, check for any limitations on your coverage. Properties that are not located in high-risk areas can also flood. According to FEMA, about 25 percent of all flood insurance claims in Louisiana come from low-risk flood zones. Find out your flood risk now by entering your address at www.FloodSmart.gov, and click on the 'Flood Risk Profile.' Your insurance provider can also help you check your risk.
Take a home inventory. Make a list and take pictures and video of the contents of your home. You can also download the free smart phone app, myHOMEscr.APP.book, provided by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners to help you document your valuables and store the information on your phone. If you do have to evacuate, take copies of your insurance policies with you along with your agent's contact information.
Take steps to protect your property.
'Homeowners should also be aware of storm mitigation efforts that can go a long way in protecting their homes from storm damage and provide insurance premium discounts as well,' Donelon said.
Insurance discounts are available for building or retrofitting a home to comply with the Louisiana State Uniform Construction Code. Qualifying elements include particular roof designs, shingles, windows, shutters, and hurricane straps incorporated in the framing process. These discounts apply to one or two-family owner-occupied homes and modular homes and are generally about 20 percent of your policy's cost.
For information, visit the Hurricane Resource Center at www.ldi.la.gov or call 1-800-259-5300. For information on flood insurance, visit www.floodsmart.gov or call 1-800-427-2419.