AIA Urges Consumers to Review Homeowners’ Coverage

Now is the time for consumers living in states threatened by hurricanes or their aftermath to ensure that their homeowners’ insurance policies provide sufficient coverage, according to The American Insurance Association (AIA). In response, the AIA has developed an easy-to-read brochure for consumers to use in conducting an annual insurance check-up.

“Hurricane season began June 1, but it’s not too late for consumers who live in coastal states as well as inland areas prone to flooding to review their homeowners’ policies, and then call their insurance companies or agents to discuss whether they have adequate coverage for their property and personal belongings,” said Eric Goldberg, AIA assistant general counsel. “Last year’s Atlantic hurricane season was one of the most destructive in recent history, causing $23 billion in insured damage. Predictions are that the 2005 season could be just as bad. The good news is that consumers still have time to conduct a thorough insurance check-up.”

The bad news reportedly is that a majority of homeowners don’t have adequate insurance. Marshall & Swift/Boeckh, a company that provides property valuation services to the insurance industry, estimated that last year 61 percent of U.S. homes were underinsured by an average of 25 percent of what it would cost to rebuild them. In determining adequate coverage, consumers need to pay special attention to current construction costs and building code upgrades in their area, take into account home upgrades or remodeling, and be aware of limits or exclusions in the homeowners’ policy.

Completely reviewing homeowners’ policies is a good idea not just for coastal residents, but for consumers in inland areas that are prone to flooding. The 2004 storms also featured severe flooding in inland areas as the remnants of the hurricanes brought heavy rainfall to locations hundreds of miles from the Atlantic or Gulf coasts.

AIA suggests consumers take the following steps in conducting an insurance check-up:

• make sure your coverage limits are adequate enough to enable you to repair or rebuild in the current building market;
• create an up-to-date home inventory of personal belongings, and consider purchasing extra coverage for expensive items;
• if you live in a coastal area, know what your windstorm deductible is, either a flat dollar amount or a percentage of the insured value of your home; and
• consider buying flood insurance, which must be purchased separately from a homeowners’ policy.

“A homeowners’ policy is a contract between the policyholder and the insurance company. The insurer understands the terms and conditions of the contract – the policyholder should, too,” said Goldberg. “Your insurance agent or company representative will be happy to walk through your policy and answer any questions you may have. Completing an annual insurance check-up today could be much less costly than waiting until after a storm strikes to discover that you don’t have adequate coverage.”

A copy of AIA’s hurricane season insurance check-up brochure can be accessed via the following link: