Storm Damage: Is it covered by your insurance?

August 29, 2011 6:11:20 PM PDT
Hurricane Irene has left behind damage worth as much as $7 billion. A lot of that will fall on homeowners and their insurance policies, so how do you know if you are covered in any natural disaster?

The rule of thumb is this: if water falls (i.e. rain), you are covered; if water rises (i.e. flooding), you are not covered unless you have flood insurance.

Those fortunate enough or far sighted enough to carry flood insurance on the eastern seaboard are feeling pretty smart these days. But for those who have suffered damage, the clock is ticking.

Flood insurance claims must be filed within 30 days, or it will be rejected.

And for those whose home was damaged by mud, there will most likely be a legal fight.

"A mud slide is not covered under homeowners insurance policy or flood insurance policy; if it was considered a mud flow that would be covered under a flood insurance policy," Insurance Information Network of California spokesperson Tully Lehman said.

A mud flow is dirty water. A mud slide is watery dirt.

For those who suffered wind damage, the rules get complex. If your tree falls on your house, your homeowner's policy pays. If your tree falls on your neighbor's house, their homeowner's policy pays. If the tree falls in your back yard and no structures are damaged, you pay for the cleanup.

And if your car gets hit with storm damage, there are rules for that too.

"If it was sitting in a parking lot, for example, that flooded, that would be covered by the comprehensive portion of your car insurance policy, same thing with a tree falling and damaging it, it would be covered with the comprehensive portion of your policy," Lehman said.

This is a good time to take out your policy and make sure it has the correct coverage and deductibles.


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