BATON ROUGE, LA (WVUE) - If a tropical storm severely damaged your roof, would you know how much you were responsible for paying out of pocket? Would your insurance cover your flooded living room?
In a news release Monday from Louisiana's insurance commissioner, Jim Donelon advised policyholders to know the answers to these types of questions before a storm threatens this hurricane season.
"Far too many times we have heard from policyholders experiencing sticker shock following a storm, folks who are unaware they had a storm deductible that requires them to pay for some of the repairs out of pocket," said Commissioner Donelon. "We urge policyholders to take a look at their coverage now, so that they can take some steps to prepare financially or shop for a lower deductible to ensure they are adequately prepared in the event that their properties experience storm damage."
The Louisiana Department of Insurance advises policyholders to focus on several key topics now, before a storm threatens.
First, state officials want residents and business owners to learn about storm deductibles.
Generally, windstorm damage is covered under standard homeowners, renters and business insurance policies with a separate wind and hail, named-storm or hurricane deductible which usually ranges from two percent to five percent of the insured property value.
If a home has an insured value of $200,000 with a two percent deductible, the policyholder would pay $4,000 out of pocket.
The single season hurricane deductible law enacted after Hurricanes Gustav and Ike struck Louisiana in 2008 lessens the impact the policyholder must bear when multiple storms cause damage to an insured property during a single storm season or calendar year.
Commissioner Donelon also urges people to educate themselves about flood insurance.
Flood damage resulting from heavy rain or storm surge is excluded under standard policies
Flood coverage can be obtained from FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
You can find out how to obtain coverage and also check your flood risk by entering your address at
. There is typically a 30-day waiting period before a flood insurance policy becomes effective.
Many people should also consider compiling a home inventory now, in case they need to make a claim for losses.
"After experiencing a loss, having to take the painstaking steps of compiling a home inventory can extend the claims process," said Commissioner Donelon. "You can use a smart phone or pad and paper, but documenting your belongings can save you valuable time and energy following a disaster."
According to Donelon, citizens in Louisiana should also look into the possibility of incentives for strengthening their homes.
Storm mitigation efforts such as roof bracing and installing shutters can go a long way in protecting your home from storm damage and can also provide discounts on your insurance premium.
Homeowners who voluntarily build or retrofit their home to comply with the Louisiana State Uniform Construction Code can reap benefits that include insurance premium discounts, tax deductions and state sales and use tax exclusions.
Keep in mind premium discounts vary by company and location, with coastal residents receiving a more significant discount than non-coastal residents.
Commissioner Donelon also announced that the state's insurer of last resort, Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (Citizens), is entering hurricane season in a strong financial position.
"With greater reinsurance providing one in 100-year storm coverage, Citizens is on sounder financial footing than ever before in its 12-year history," Donelon said.
"Citizens' ability to purchase more reinsurance coverage at a lower cost has largely been the result of the depopulation program which has reduced Citizens overall policy count by 50 percent since its peak in 2008."
As of last month, Citizens had a total of 86,645 personal and commercial policies, down from about 174,000 in 2008.