While it appears Hurricane Isaias is moving further into the Atlantic, there will still be folks that experience losses due in part to the hurricane. The Florida Statutes regarding hurricane losses are quite clear, from the moment a hurricane watch or warning is issued until 72 hours after the last watch or warning has cleared, all losses than can be associated with the hurricane are subject to the hurricane deductible.
The reason this is important is because most homeowners carry a $1,000 non-hurricane deductible but will carry a much high 2% deductible for hurricane. This deductible is not 2% of the loss, it is 2% of the coverage amount for the home. Example of a 2% deductible:
- A $125,000 home will have a $2,500 hurricane deductible
- A $250,000 home will have a $5,000 hurricane deductible
- A $500,000 home will have a $10,000 hurricane deductible
With these larger deductibles, you may think its not worth filiing a claim especially when the damage appears to be minor or less than the hurricane deductible. You may still wish to file the claim and here is why; a hurricane deductible is a CALENDAR YEAR DEDUCTIBLE. What that means is the maximum you will pay out of pocket within a calendar year for hurricane losses. After you meet the deductible your standard deductible will still apply but that is usually much lower than the hurricane deductible. Here is an example of how this works:
Example #1 - You have a branch fall on your roof. The cost to repair the roof is $4,000 and your hurricane deductible is $5,000. If you file the claim, your insurance company will pay $0 for this claim. However a month later, another hurricane causes another roof loss, this time it is $15,000. Because you filed the previous claim, your insurance company pays $14,000 which is the loss minus your remaining hurricane deductible. If you didn't file the first claim, the paid loss for the second claim would only be $11,000.
Example #2 - Your neighbors yard debris flies and damages your garage door. The door needs to be replaced and will cost $2,500. Your hurricane deductible is $2,500. If you don't file the claim, this amount does not count toward your hurricane deductible. So for the next year, any hurricane losses will still have the hurricane deductible apply.
With insurance carriers, filing what is known as an "Act of God" loss does not impact your insurance rates. In some cases having multiple claims may prevent you from being eligible for certain carriers which is the primary risk of filing a claim. The other risk associated with filing a claim is having the property inspected again. Sometimes this may uncover a condition the insurance company is not okay with insuring. However, in most scenarios it is going to be favorable to file the claim and will keep you in compliance with your duty to notify the carrier of losses.