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Hurricanes and Deductibles

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Courtesy of iii.org

This should NOT be a surprise: Your home insurance policy has a separate deductible for hurricane damage. It should be common knowledge because it’s been in Florida statutes on insurance contracts at least since 1997. Yet, when the next hurricane hits, there will be some people shocked to find this out when it has been in plain sight for more than 20 years.

Truthfully, it’s in plain sight if you were actually to READ your insurance policy. You’ll find it in two places. On the front of your policy pages, there is this blaring headline in all capital letters:

“THIS POLICY CONTAINS A SEPARATE DEDUCTIBLE FOR HURRICANE LOSSES, WHICH MAY RESULT IN HIGH OUT-OF-POCKET EXPENSES TO YOU.”

This sentence above is in 18-point, bold type not because I’m yelling, but because that is what the legislation requires. Big, bold and rather in-your-face.

The second place homeowners are informed of their hurricane deductible is on the declarations page. This is a one-page summary of what you are paying for insurance, and the hurricane deductible amount is spelled out to the penny. For example, if your dwelling is insured for $325,000, and you have a 2 percent hurricane deductible, the amount is $6,500. That is your share of the repair bill from hurricane damage.

And, the logical next question would be…WHY? Here’s why: Without a hurricane deductible, you would be paying more every year for property insurance. Remember, a hurricane can hit any year, and the threat of hurricanes hangs for 6 full months. Having these higher deductibles means you share in the cost to repair any damage in exchange for lower premiums every year that hurricanes don’t hit. With deductibles in place, insurers are more likely to want to offer coverage. Why? Because if the cost of catastrophic claims is shared, then more insurers will consider entering the marketplace, giving customers more choices.

Florida property insurance policies have had a hurricane deductible since shortly after Hurricane Andrew hit in 1992. Andrew was a game-changer, an eye-opener and a truth teller about the risks associated with living in Florida. We shouldn’t be surprised.

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