Hurricane Dorian: What to know about your insurance options

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Hanna Horvath, CFP®Managing Editor & Certified Financial Planner™Hanna Horvath, CFP®, is a certified financial planner and former managing editor at Policygenius. Her work has also been featured in NBC News, Business Insider, Inc. Magazine, CNBC, Best Company, and HerMoney.

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Hurricane Dorian is expected to hit the East Coast today, with a heavy storm surge and rainfall expected in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

More than 660,000 homes along the east coast of Florida will be exposed to storm surge damage, with a reconstruction cost value of approximately $144.6 billion, according to CoreLogic, a data analytics company.

If you’re living in the area, listen to authorities and prepare your home for the storm, evacuating if needed.

The one thing you can’t do to prepare? Buy or increase your property insurance, due to certain moratoriums issued by carriers. Learn more about why you can’t get insurance ahead of a hurricane.

Does homeowners insurance cover hurricanes?

Homeowners insurance typically covers storm damage. But hurricanes make things a bit trickier. Residents in some coastal states must also purchase additional windstorm and flood insurance. Moratoriums also prevent some from getting new policies or increasing an existing policy.

Your basic homeowners insurance policy covers the structure and contents of your home against fire, lightning, theft and tropical storms that aren’t hurricanes. Once a hurricane gets a name, flood and windstorm coverage comes in.

Learn more about what homeowners insurance does (and doesn’t) cover when it comes to hurricanes.

How to protect yourself & your home

While you may not be able to get insurance or adequate coverage in time, here are some things you can do to prepare for a hurricane.

  1. Secure your property. This includes: Trimming branches and trees, securing outdoor furniture or potential debris, installing storm shutters or putting plywood over your windows and glass doors, ensuring garage doors are approved for wind pressure and impact, sealing any openings into your home like vents, power outlets, random holes or pipes and cleaning gutters and any direct downspouts that lead water away from your house

  2. Update your home inventory. Take stock of your belongings and the condition of your home in a video ahead of the hurricane. This will make it easier to file a claim later.

  3. Document any damage. Maintain and keep receipts and documentation of evacuation if you leave home during the hurricane. Some policies cover the cost of any additional living expenses you incur if your home is uninhabitable. Once the storm has passed, walk through your home and document any damage or missing items for the claims process.

  4. Revisit your homeowners insurance policy. Consider re-shopping for insurance or increasing your existing policy as soon as possible. Some moratoriums are lifted just days after a storm. We can help you compare and buy homeowners insurance.

Want to learn more? Here are some more tips for updating your homeowners insurance after a storm.

Ready to shop home insurance?