Does My Homeowner’s Policy Cover Storm Damage?

Gotham Brokerage can answer your storm-related insurance questions

Damage at the Grand Army Plaza Station Thunderstorms spawned two tornadoes and produced straight-line wind gusts to 125 mph in the New York City area on September 16, 2010. Image credit: user JillYoungblood

NYC’s recent close call with Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene has many New Yorkers wondering whether their homeowners’ policies cover storm damage. (Note the difference between storm damage and flood damage, which we cover in another post.) Check your policy to be sure, but here are some rules of thumb:

  • Do homeowner’s policies usually cover storm damage? Yes. The standard homeowner’s policy covers storm damage to the dwelling, its contents and other structures, such as garages and fences, up to the policy limit. Storm damage also can act as a trigger for coverage of other consequential losses and expenses such as debris removal and loss of use.
  • If a storm has left my home uninhabitable, does my homeowner’s policy cover temporary lodging and related expenses? Yes, your policy should cover the costs necessary to maintain your standard of living — lodging, meals, transportation, etc. — for as long as you can’t live in your home. Keep receipts for all expenses, though. You’ll need them to be reimbursed.
  • Will my policy cover debris removal? To a point. For example, coverage for damage caused by fallen trees is usually limited to $1,000 for a single storm. Check your policy for specifics.
  • Will my policy pay for the cost of protecting my home from further damage after a storm? Yes. In fact, it’s required. The standard homeowner’s policy will pay for the cost of boarding up windows and other emergency repairs. Your policy also will, for a limited time, provide comprehensive coverage for items removed from the home in advance of a storm, but it won’t pay for the cost of removal.
  • What won’t my homeowner’s policy cover? Storm damage to trees, shrubs and gardens; food in a refrigerator or freezer spoiled after a power outage (unless the damage to power lines or equipment happened on your property); and damage caused by flood waters or a storm-caused sewage or drainage backup.

Any further questions? Call or email us, and we’d be happy to answer them, or to talk with you about enhancing or replacing your existing homeowner’s coverage. Stay safe and covered out there!

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