Dealing with a terrible disaster that resulted in severe or complete damage to a beloved home is unbelievably tough and stressful, but it is nothing compared to the despair felt when the insurance company states that the loss is not covered.

Too many homeowners experienced this horrible feeling firsthand in the aftermath of several hurricanes that left parts of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana in shambles a couple years ago. Although the tragic situation was indeed unfortunate and disheartening, the various stories that surfaced can serve as a lesson to other consumers.

Natural disasters, such as hurricanes and tornadoes, result in more claims to home insurance companies than fires and thefts combined. As a result, many insurers carefully scrutinize disaster claims because of their high incidence and the high costs associated with such filings. The exact extent of the damage will be evaluated, but so will the specific causes.

Many of the unfortunate residents along the Gulf coast discovered the hard way that homeowner’s insurance does not cover flood damage. Storm surges are typically considered to be flood waters, so it is necessary for anybody living in coastal areas to ensure that they are appropriately covered. It is never a bad idea for any homeowner living near water to carry flood insurance even if they do not live in a designated flood plain.

In addition to making sure that appropriate flood insurance is retained, responsible homeowners should ensure that their coverage levels are still appropriate for the home. Rising construction costs have made it increasingly more expensive to rebuild or repair a damaged home, so it is often necessary to revaluate the policy limits on home insurance. If property values have significantly risen in a particular area, the insurance company normally will automatically raise the policy limits. However, it is ultimately up to the homeowner to ensure that they are adequately covered.

It may be necessary to increase limits if the amount of contents in a home has increased or if the contents have simply grown a large amount in value. Special personal belongings such as expensive musical instruments may require their own binder or special policy, so it is often necessary to discuss these items directly with the insurer.

Insurance companies are by no means determined to avoid paying legitimate claims, but the resident must take the necessary steps to protect their home and belongings. By learning from the bad experiences of other homeowners, a wise consumer can ensure that they won’t find themselves in the same situation.

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