Hurricane Sandy is reminding folks to check what is covered – and what is not covered - when it comes to flooding and wind damage.
Fact: most homeowners’ and renters’ policies do not cover damage due to flooding. To get that coverage, you generally have to buy a separate policy through the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program, but many people skip it — even though floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States. Only 18 percent of Americans have flood insurance.
Q. What’s the difference between rain damage and flooding?
A. The government defines flooding as the overflow of inland or tidal waters — including a storm surge, a mudflow, or the rapid accumulation of surface waters that can occur from a sudden rainstorm. Water leaking through the roof is not in the same category, which basically applies to water sloshing around at ground level, not raining down from above.
Q. Does insurance pay for tree removal?
A. If a tree falls and hits someone’s home, insurance companies will pay to fix the damage and remove the tree. But if it lands on the ground or on bushes it won’t be covered. You’ll have to remove it yourself.”
One exception: if the tree hits electrical wires, the local power company should take care of the removal. And if an adjuster determines that a tree fell because of a homeowner’s negligence — if, for instance, it was rotting — the insurance company might dispute the claim. (Owners of cars damaged by falling trees should submit auto insurance claims.)
Q. Is wind damage covered?
A. Damage from high winds is generally covered, but if a storm becomes a hurricane, or wind speeds exceed 74 miles per hour, the claim might be subject to a “hurricane deductible” ranging from 1 to 5 percent of insured value.