Before an Emergency
Check on the Insurance Coverage for your Home and Belongings
It is important to know what your home insurance policy covers so you are not surprised about reimbursement if an emergency occurs.
Homes in California are not covered for damage sustained during an earthquake with a basic home insurance policy. Instead, additional coverage for home damage and property loss must be purchased through the California Earthquake Authority (CEA).
If you live in an area that could be affected by floods, you may need to purchase additional coverage through the National Flood Insurance Program. In more recent years, extreme weather conditions and storms have caused severe flooding in areas previously safe from flood events like the 2017 flooding in Houston from Hurricane Harvey and the more recent flooding in North Carolina from Hurricane Florence.
You should also check to see if all of your belongings are covered by your current homeowner’s policy. Usually there is a dollar limit on the reimbursement costs, and some of the contents of your home may not be covered. For example, valuable collections (coins, comic books, books) may not be covered and an additional policy may need to be purchased once the contents of the collection are assigned a monetary value. Families with special health needs may need to purchase insurance to cover expensive equipment if health insurance will not cover the items (eye gaze, ceiling lift system, bath and toileting chairs). This may be important if rented equipment is eventually owned by a family (BiPap or CPAP machine, pulse oximeter, CoughAssist machine). The cost of all electronic devices (TVs, computers, digital cameras) may also not be covered under a general policy and an extra “personal articles” policy may need to be purchased to cover additional costs of replacement. Finally, the contents of a home business may require additional insurance coverage.
The IMPORTANT point is to CHECK with your insurance company so you KNOW exactly what part of your home and belongings are covered before an emergency happens. Additions and upgrades to your home may not be covered automatically. In some cases, polices may only cover the depreciated portion of home contents, which would significantly change the level of reimbursement.