According to the J.D. Power 2014 Canadian Home Insurance Study, the most common type of home insurance claim is for damage caused by weather – and the number of these claims is on the rise. Yet many people don't fully understand what their home insurance does and doesn't cover when it comes to weather damage.
Compare Your Area's Weather With Your Policy
Since policies vary, the only way to figure out what exactly is covered is to look at your policy or discuss it with your agent. But in general, it's important to make sure your weather coverage matches up with what weather you experience in your area.
Most home insurance policies cover storm damage, including damage from wind, hail, and lightning, so if this is the sort of extreme weather you experience most often, you may already have well-matched coverage. Flood damage, on the other hand, is not a part of standard home insurance; if you live in an area where flooding may occur, be sure to look into separate flood insurance.
Know The Difference Between Flooding And Water Damage
It's very common for homeowners to misunderstand their flood coverage – or, more precisely, their lack of it. Part of this may be because most policies do cover water damage. But in insurance terms, water damage doesn't mean the same thing as flooding.
Water damage generally means damage from leaks, whether it's a leaky roof in a storm or a leaky pipe. If a heavy storm leaves you with a flooded basement, that is likely to be covered under water damage. Flood insurance, on the other hand, is for when the cause of the damage was a flooded waterway – sometimes called overland flooding.
Check For Earthquake Coverage
Unlike flooding, earthquake coverage is sometimes included in a home insurance policy. However, most of the time, it must be specifically added as extra coverage. If you live in an area prone to earthquakes and haven't added this coverage, you should talk to an agent about how to add it to your policy or consider purchasing a separate earthquake policy.
Pay Attention To Your Roof
It might not sound like an insurance tip, but keeping up with roof maintenance is key when it comes to getting the most out of severe weather coverage. Roofs that are past their life expectancy or that haven't been maintained may not be covered for storm damage or may have reduced coverage.
While you can keep up with maintenance, you can't change the age of your roof without getting a new one. If you have an older roof, check to see whether your insurance policy has reduced or removed its coverage for roof damage. If so, it's usually still possible for you to add or expand your roof coverage although it will mean higher premiums.
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