There are many things you need to do to prepare for a storm of any kind, but checking your insurance policy is critical in making sure you're able to recover if your home, apartment or business has damage. And it's something some people in Eastern Carolina recently found out the hard way.
Michael Hunnings and his wife Danielle are among the many whose homes were destroyed or severely damaged in the April tornadoes in Beaufort County
Danielle says, "Some days are really, really bad, others you try to see the positives."
But Michael says that's been made even more difficult because of their insurance. He says, "Policies are written today to where it's kind of hard for the everyday person to actually understand exactly what they're signing, what they're actually insuring and what they're actually doing."
It turns out the Hunnings didn't have the insurance they thought they had. The question is...do you?
With hurricane season here, Walker Lynch, President of Bragaw Insurance in Washington, says now is the time to check your policy.
Lynch says, "Have a conversation with your agent to determine that you are prepared for those damages in case a hurricane does come."
Not only do you want to make sure you have the right amount of insurance, you need to make sure you have coverage for wind damage, which is not included in some policies anymore.
Lynch says, "They are allowed in our sea coast area to pull the wind storm peril outside of the policy and leave it up to the insurer to purchase that coverage through a state plan."
Mike Sloan, agent and broker at Sloan Insurance in Washington, also says coverage from flooding is not included in your homeowners policy. If you want that you need to buy it separately, but there's a waiting period.
Sloan says, "If you wait until the last minute and we have a hurricane watch or something like that and you decide you need flood coverage, you're going to have to wait 30 days to get it, unless it's a loan closing."
You also need to know when you buy insurance, you're insuring the structure, not the land. And in some cases, the land may be more valuable than what's on it, so in those cases, an insurance policy isn't going to cover the full cost of what a mortgage loan may be.
You also need to make sure that the valuables inside your home are covered, think about coverage for living expenses if you can't stay in your home, costs for debris removal, and perhaps even lost food if your power is out.
Sloan says, "Some of those coverages are built into homeowner policies, in fact they are, other coverages may not have that, so it's another thing it would be good to talk with your agent to see if you have debris removal coverage or not."
Tornado victims in Beaufort County found out debris removal was not something local, state, or federal governments were going to help with.
The Hunnings are now getting help from the United Methodist Church Disaster Relief organization, which is demolishing and rebuilding their house, charging only for the cost of materials.
Michael says, "Without them I don't know where we would be."
Danielle says, "We're just hoping we can get through this and the next time we're definitely going to go over our insurance policy with a fine tooth comb."
To learn more about what you need to know when it comes to your homeowners insurance policy, just click on the related link from the NC Department of Insurance.