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Published 14th August 2009, 11:36am

Having adequate home owners insurance is an important component of preparedness.

These are some of the insurance considerations for your property as they relate to hurricanes and other impacts.

Some insurance companies won’t issue new policies during hurricane season or at least during the peak time for tropical cyclone activity, so it is generally a good idea to get insurance policies in place before the hurricane season begins.

Scope

When shopping for home owners insurance, enquire about the scope of coverage being offered. We are exposed to risks all year round, whether it is from the perils of nature, such as hurricane, earthquake, flood, lightning damage, or tornado, or perils of man such as burglary, theft and fire. Cover for these and other perils may be available to you through the insurance company.

Enquire about the additional benefits that may be available to you under the insurance policy. Some insurance companies offer a home ‘cover all’ policy which, in addition to providing the scope of cover previously summarised, extends to provide benefits such as the cost of clearing debris from the damaged site, the cost of alternative accommodation if the home is uninhabitable after a loss, and compensation costs to your household employee or third parties should you be found legally liable for injury suffered by them while on your premises.

Valuation

Obtain a current valuation to establish the value for which your property should be insured. This value should reflect the full cost to rebuild the property and that might include walls, gates, fences, and other paved areas within the boundary lines.

Following Hurricane Ivan many people were advised that they were ‘under insured.’ Under insurance occurs when the amount for which the property is insured is less that the current value, so it is important to insure for the replacement value of your home rather that the purchase amount, otherwise you can end up ‘out of pocket.’

In a report submitted to the Legislative Assembly in July 2009, Auditor General Dan Duguay reinforced this point when he stated, “If Hurricane Ivan has taught the residents of the Cayman Islands anything, it is that all owners, including government, need to continually update the value of its assets and to ensure that the insurance company agrees before an event that the (property) organisation is adequately insured.” As a general rule insurance companies require an updated valuation every three years and if this is done it is highly unlikely there will be disputes on the under insurance issue. Some policies are being issued without an under evaluation clause if there is an up to date valuation in place.

Before and After

Take pictures of your house and property. If you ever need to make claims on valuables and on your home after a hurricane, you’ll need to have some photographic proof of your losses. Take photos of your home and property as well as your valuable possessions and store them in a safe and waterproof place.

Before you start any cleanup be sure to take pictures of damage to structures and contents, both inside and out. This is important for insurance claims.

You can make hurricane season a little less stressful by preparing throughout the year.