Know your insurance well before disaster strikes -

Check your insurance before disaster strikes

Insurance is something many people don't think about until they need it, and when it comes to filing a claim, many people realize insurance doesn't work exactly the way they expect, so it helps to be ready for a complicated process.

"I think that's an understatement," said Ed Edelen. "It's a lot more complicated."

Edelen should know - his insurance ordeal lasted more than nine months after Hurricane Hugo wiped out his oceanfront home. When it comes to large-scale natural disasters he says it is important to keep two things in mind. First, insurance company catastrophe teams are sent in, so you will not deal much with a local agent.

"They are considered doing a good job if they reduce the claim to the minimum possible," Edelen explained.

Also, if you can, get some help with a major claim from a builder and/or a lawyer he said.

Wade Davis with State Farm admits claims can get complicated especially with big disasters. However, homeowners can at least check now to be sure their homeowners insurance covers what they think. The closer someone lives to the ocean the more likely a homeowner is to need extra coverage for wind damage.

"You might have to buy your wind and hail separately," Davis explained. "Then you would have your regular homeowners policy, which covers everything basically besides wind and hail."

Flood insurance is always separate. So if flooding causes damage a homeowner may have to make different claims based on which damage is covered by which policy.

"Well at that point you've got a real battle," Edelen said. "Did the flood do it or did the wind do it?"

Davis says it is wise to decide if paying more for insurance now will allow for more coverage reimbursement later.

"The best thing to do is to check with your agent to be sure you're adequately covered," Davis said.

People who have renters insurance should know their policies usually cover wind damage with everything else, but like other policies, flood insurance or earthquake coverage is usually separate.

Copyright 2011 America Now. All rights reserved.

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