Hurricane season is here, and the media keeps telling us to be prepared. They talk about having an emergency plan, canned goods, flashlights, batteries and a first aid kit. The experts all agree that you should take care of these things well in advance, but most people are complacent and will wait until a hurricane watch is issued before running to the store. Unfortunately, if you wait that long to check your insurance, it will be too late and your procrastination could end up costing you tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in uncovered damages. That is why it is so important to review your coverage with a licensed agent now.

There have been many changes to insurance policies since Charley hit our area almost 11 years ago and most of these changes have reduced or limited coverage for damage caused by a hurricane. We talk to prospective customers daily who do not realize how inadequate their current coverage is and how relatively inexpensive it can be to strengthen their policy until we point it out.

Some of the coverage’s that we see the biggest deficiencies in are; not enough building or contents coverage , limited or no ordinance and law coverage, inadequate additional living expense coverage, low mold coverage, limited or no pool cage coverage and no replacement cost coverage.

When you talk to an agent, make sure that the amount of building coverage on your home will be adequate to rebuild your home after a major storm, when supplies become scarce and costs rise. You also want to make sure that both your building and your personal belongings are covered at replacement cost to avoid a large depreciation deduction. Find out how much ordinance and law coverage you have. This coverage pays the cost of bringing your house into compliance with new building codes. We recommend a minimum of twenty five percent, but many policies that we see have none or only ten percent coverage. In most of these cases this is going to leave the homeowner with a very big bill to pay.

Make sure to ask if, how, and for how much your pool cage is covered for in the event of a storm. Many policies exclude coverage or do not cover the screening. They only cover the metal framing on a depreciated value while providing no coverage to meet the new codes. If it is covered, there is usually a limit but in most cases you can buy back additional coverage.

Find out how much additional living expense coverage you have and be sure to ask if there is any co-payment amount that you would be responsible for. This coverage pays for the expenses you incur while displaced from your home. There are a number of companies who only pay eighty percent of your cost when your claim is a result of hurricane damage. Don’t forget to ask how much mold coverage you have. Most policies come with a standard ten thousand in coverage, but this coverage can usually be increased to twenty five thousands for around sixty dollars a year. Finally, please remember that if your home and belongings are damaged from rising water including storm surge, you will need to have a separate flood insurance policy.

Benjamin Franklin is noted for saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This old axiom couldn’t be truer when it comes to your insurance. Don’t wait until it is too late review your policy with a licensed insurance agent today.

Jim Nolan is President of Nolan Family Insurance. He can be reached at 941-639-1122 or nolanins@hotmail.com.