Here in Florida we just began our hurricane season. Typically this runs from June 1st to November 30th of each year. Though the experts attempt to predict how many storms will hit us and how severe they will be, there is no way of being 100% sure. This year they seem to feel that we will have an above average number of storms. Now is the time to be thinking about getting insurance and/or reviewing the policy you currently have to ensure that you have adequate coverage.
Be aware that once a hurricane warning or watch is declared for any part of the state, the insurance companies will stop writing policies until the danger is past. Otherwise, it would be kind of like calling your insurance agent to get coverage for your boat as it is sinking into the lake. Insurance companies frown on that. So if you already own a home, take a moment to review your current coverage to make sure it covers your property adequately. Remember, in the past years it is likely that your home has increased in value, and you need to be sure that your policy addresses that.
If you are going to be buying a home during the hurricane season, make sure that your purchase contract has wording to protect you if you are unable to get insurance due to an impending storm. The contract I use was created by the Florida Association of REALTORS (FAR). Its wording says, "If on Closing Date insurance underwriting is suspended, Buyer may postpone closing up to 5 days after the insurance suspension is lifted." Using this contract you would not be forced to close on the specified closing date if you were unable to get insurance due to an insurance suspension caused by a hurricane. The last thing you would want is to close on an uninsured home with a hurricane bearing down on it! I am not sure if the contracts available in office supply stores have such wording. States that are not normally affected by hurricanes may also not have this language in their contracts. Read your contract carefully and consult an attorney if you have any doubts about this issue.
Keep in mind that flood insurance is not a part of your standard policies. If you live in a flood prone area you may wish to see what it would cost to get flood protection coverage. It may not be as expensive as you think. But keep in mind that if you need to purchase flood insurance, there is a waiting period before your coverage will begin. I believe that it is 30 days, but confirm that with your insurance provider.If you are not sure if you are in a flood zone you can check with your county property appraiser. Often they have interactive maps that you can use or you can call them for more information. The surest way of knowing if you are in a flood zone is to have a surveyor determine your flood elevations.
John Elwell - REALTOR
Bill Nye Realty, Inc.
Licensed in Florida