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Stuck Paying Hurricane Home Insurance Deductibles?

In the wake of damage caused by hurricane/tropical storm Irene, many are left wondering how they will pay their deductible and what their claims will be like. For those lucky enough to escape the storm, many are rightly concerned with the possibility that the next one might strike their home. What will happen? If you have hurricane coverage, your insurer will take care of you, but you might have to pay a special deductible.

Hurricane Deductibles Versus Normal Deductibles

In places where hurricanes hit regularly, such as Florida, Georgia, and pretty much the entire Atlantic coastline, Gulf coastline, and New England, insurance companies do not charge a normal deductible. Instead, they charge a hurricane deductible.

The difference is that, rather than the flat amount you pay with a standard deductible, you pay a percentage of the market value of your home. So, if your home is worth $300 thousand and your hurricane deductible is 2 percent, you pay $6 thousand. This is almost always more than a standard deductible, such as $750.

Companies do this to save themselves thousands of dollars per home in claims, since they often have to pay to fix thousands of homes per hurricane.

Unless you live right on the coastline, in which case your deductible may be very high, hurricane deductibles rarely stray from the one to five percent range.

All states and districts subject to hurricane deductibles are:
The South and Southwest
Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia
The North and Northeast
Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island
Other
Hawaii, Washington, D.C.

Will Victims of Irene Have to Pay Hurricane Deductibles?

Hurricane Irene is tricky case, since it was not a hurricane the whole time. Before it hit New York and New Jersey, as well as Vermont and other more northern areas, Irene was downgraded from hurricane to tropical storm. While you might think this would be a straightforward case of nobody having to pay hurricane deductibles, the reality is different.

In New York and New Jersey, state regulators have declared that homeowners should not have to pay hurricane deductibles. So far, several insurers have come out and said that is the case and that they will not be charging more than the standard deductibles. However, other states have been less clear.

In Connecticut, for instance, hurricane deductibles are regulated a bit differently. Firstly, they are only allowed on coastline properties. If you live across the street from the shore, you shouldn't have to pay a percentage – just the flat rate. Everyone with hurricane deductibles probably will have to pay them. Ah, you protest, “but it wasn't a hurricane!” True, but hurricane deductibles in Connecticut can be triggered by even just a hurricane warning. Ultimately, because of the grey area, it will be up to home insurance providers which deductibles to charge.

Vermonters can at least take some solace from the fact that they do not have deductibles on their hurricane coverage.

If you haven't gotten hurricane coverage on your home insurance yet, there is no better time than now. Climatologists predict that hurricanes will be getter worse, more frequent, and be going farther inland. Prepare your home insurance now.

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