Hurricane season starts next week. Have you read your insurance policy lately?

Insurance 101: understanding your coverage

Changes to flood insurance policies and what is and isn't covered when it comes to damage caused by your neighbor's property.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Hurricane season officially starts on June 1. You should check your car and homeowner’s insurance policies to make certain you know what is covered and what is not should a storm threaten our area. Here’s a breakdown:

Flood insurance

If you live in a flood zone, your mortgage holder will require you to purchase flood insurance. Some policies can take 30 days to become active, so don’t delay.

Joe Carlucci with Brightway Insurance said the way flood insurance rates are now calculated has changed in the state of Florida.

He said, previously, homes in the same flood zone typically paid the same premium of a few hundred dollars a year. But now, he said, each individual home is assessed, which means even if you live in the same flood zone as your neighbor you may have to pay more or less compared to the home next door. Rates are now customized based on the individual home, for example, elevation and the way it was constructed.

This means if you have an existing policy, don’t let it lapse, rates are increasing.

Homeowner’s insurance

Some of the most common questions insurance agents receive during hurricane season involve tree damage or damage that occurs to shared homes, like condos and apartments.

First, if a tree on your neighbor’s property falls and damages your fence or home, Carlucci said you will need to file a claim with your own insurance policy. Your neighbor’s policy will not cover the cost of the repairs to your fence or home even though the tree was on your neighbor’s property.

If a pipe bursts in the condo above you and causes water damage to your home, you would need to file a claim with your homeowner’s insurance. Your neighbor’s policy will not cover this type of damage to your property.

Also, read your homeowner’s policy closely, it does not cover rising water caused by storm surge. This coverage must be purchased separately through a flood insurance policy.

However, most policies do cover damage caused by rainwater if your roof is damaged during a storm.

Car Insurance 101: How well do you know your coverage?

Personal Injury Protection: PIP

This offers limited protection by paying a portion of your medical expenses if you are injured in a car accident.

Property Damage Liability: PDL

This does not provide any protection to people, but to property. It involves coverage for damages you may cause to another person’s car.

Comprehensive Car Insurance

This covers damage caused by reasons other than a car collision such as:

  • Tree falls on your car
  • Damage caused by an animal
  • Vandalism, theft
  • Flooding, hail
Collision insurance

This covers damage by a collision involving your car and the car you hit.

Medical expense

Damage caused if you lose control and hit something or roll your car.

These policies vary in cost, the more coverage, the more expensive. Bottom line, the National Hurricane Center is forecasting a busy season, be prepared and know your coverage.

About the Author:

Jennifer, who anchors The Morning Shows and is part of the I-TEAM, loves working in her hometown of Jacksonville.