EDISON - In the year since Superstorm Sandy, many homeowners across New Jersey have gotten a painful lesson in insurance, and what it does and does not cover. So with this week’s Sandy anniversary, Kane In Your Corner sat down with the Insurance Council of New Jersey to discuss what you can do to protect yourself before the next big storm hits.
Consider Flood Insurance: As many New Jerseyans learned the hard way, standard homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage. A separate flood policy can cover up to $250,000 in structural damage and up to $150,000 in personal possessions. Flood insurance is not perfect, however. Many things are excluded, such as finished basements, and some damages are calculated based on depreciation – things are valued less as they get older – rather than replacement cost. But it’s a lot better than having no protection at all.
Review Your Homeowners Policy: Not all homeowners insurance policies are the same. Make sure yours will pay enough to rebuild your home and covers everything you want covered. “Does your homeowners cover your sump pump?” asks Christine O’Brien of the Insurance Council. “If it doesn’t, then you should talk to your agent or your carrier about purchasing that additional coverage. Does it cover sewage backup? Typically, homeowners polices do not have that as standard coverage.”
MORE: Sandy Coverage
Renters Need Insurance, Too: If you rent, your landlord is not responsible for damage to your property. You’ll need your own renters insurance policy. O’Brien says the good news is, they’re not expensive, usually running less than $20 a month.
Consider Mediation: If you think your insurance company is giving you less than you deserve, you can get free mediation from the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance. Just click the link below.
No matter how well you prepare, however, expect delays in how your claim is processed. Over the past year, several homeowners called Kane In Your Corner to complain that even after their insurance company paid, their mortgage company was slow to approve the release of the money because of a new fraud prevention system.
“Unfortunately, that is a result of what we saw in post Katrina, where there were a lot of people who were just taking their insurance checks and skipping town and not rebuilding, and the lenders were stuck with the bill,” O’Brien says.
While that system may get a bit more efficient as banks get more used to it, the insurance industry warns the policy is here to stay.