It is important to review your Homeowner, Renters or Condominium policy yearly and especially prior to the start of the Atlantic Tropical Storm season which runs from June 1 through November 30. Review your policy with your agent, a company representative or contact the Connecticut Insurance Department to understand what is covered and what your coverage limits are to ensure you are adequately protected. Keep your policies and insurance contact information in a safe place should your property be damaged, and you have to make a claim.
To help you better understand what a standard Homeowner, renters, or condominium policy generally covers, here are some of the commonly asked storm-related questions.
TREES (Homeowners, Condominiums)
Inquiry: If my tree is blown over or falls due to wind, snow or ice and damages my neighbor’s property, does my policy pay to fix the damage? What if the tree damages my home? What if the tree is blown over but no structure is damaged?
Answer: Your Homeowner policy does not automatically pay for a fallen tree on your property that damages your neighbor’s property. Your neighbor should file a claim with their own insurer. If the owner of the tree (you) are sued by your neighbor, the Section II Personal Liability section of the Homeowner policy may respond with defense coverage and payment if the owner (you) is found negligent. This is where the "Act of God" phrase applies. A tree owner is legally liable for the damage only if owner negligence caused the tree to fall. Otherwise, it is an "Act of God" which would be covered under the neighbor’s Section I Property Coverage of the Homeowner policy.
If the tree falls on your own house due to a covered peril, then damage to the house is covered. The Homeowner policy generally covers the cost to remove the tree from the house when the damage is caused by a covered peril. Generally, the cost to remove the tree from the premises is covered up to $500 so long as the tree damages a covered structure or blocks a driveway on the premises.
If the tree is blown over and does no damage to structures, there is generally no coverage for the tree and no coverage to remove the tree from the premises. However, some insurers do provide a limited amount of coverage for this type of loss in the standard Homeowner policy so the Department suggests that you contact your agent or a company representative for additional information regarding this coverage.
SPOILED FOOD (Homeowners, Renters, Condominiums)
Inquiry: The food in my freezer went bad because I lost power. Does my Homeowner policy provide coverage for this?
Answer: The standard Homeowner policy usually does not include coverage for spoiled food. However, refrigerated food spoilage coverage is a popular coverage for insurance companies to offer and you may be able to buy this coverage for a nominal additional premium. Your agent should be able to tell you about the availability of coverage, the scope of the coverage, i.e. due to power failure and how much it would cost.
Please note, some insurers do provide a limited amount of coverage for this type of loss in the standard Homeowner policy so the Department suggests that you contact an agent or a company representative for additional information regarding this coverage.
TEMPORARY LIVING EXPENSES (Homeowners, Renters, Condominiums)
Inquiry: Does my insurance cover me for hotel expenses if I am forced out of my home to due to loss of power?
Answer: Generally, no. Standard homeowners’ policies provide coverage only for "Additional Living Expenses" if a loss covered by the policy damages the structure making it uninhabitable. Coverage is for any necessary increase in living expenses such as a hotel stay or the increased cost of meals. If you are without power due to a widespread power outage occurring away from your property, homeowners insurance does not cover additional living expenses. But because policies differ, homeowners it is important to check with your agent or insurance company to be sure.
Inquiry: My home is not fit to live in due to storm damage. Does the company pay for my motel and restaurant bills?
Answer: Your policy includes coverage for "Additional Living Expense" in the event you cannot live in your home due to a covered loss. This includes the cost for motel rooms, a food allowance (remember normal food bills stop) and other living costs in excess of what would have existed had the home not been damaged, such as increased transportation.
Inquiry: Does a homeowner’s policy cover loss by windstorm even though the storm is an "Act of God".
The homeowner’s policy covers damage to the homeowner’s property caused by events even though the cause is described as an "Act of God." On the "all perils" form 3 policy, all perils are covered unless the peril is specifically excluded. On the form 2 policy, the covered perils are named in the policy.
Inquiry: Does a homeowner’s policy cover loss by windstorm even after the storm is classified a tornado or a hurricane?
The homeowners policy covers loss caused by windstorm regardless of how the windstorm is classified, i.e. hurricane, tornado, cyclone, etc.
Inquiry: Do all Homeowner, Renters or Condominium policies have wind deductibles?
Insurance companies may offer and consumers may choose to apply a windstorm or hail deductible in lieu of an overall policy deductible. Windstorm or hail deductibles may not be mandated by insurers in Connecticut. Windstorm or hail deductibles may either be in the form of a flat dollar amount or a percentage of the limit for Coverage A Dwelling.
Hurricane deductibles are different than windstorm or hail deductibles. Hurricane deductibles may only be applied under specific circumstances related to the storm. In the event of a loss caused by hurricane, an insurer may impose a hurricane deductible in lieu of an overall policy deductible only if the damage occurred during the period commencing with the issuance of a hurricane warning by the National Hurricane Center of the National Weather Service in any part of the state if such hurricane results in a maximum sustained surface wind of seventy-four miles per hour or more for any part of this state.
Imposition of a hurricane deductible can only be applied during the period:
(A) commencing not earlier than when the National Weather Service National Hurricane Center issues a hurricane warning for any part of this state, and
(B) ending the earlier of:
- Twenty-four hours after the National Hurricane Center's termination of the last hurricane warning for any part of this state; or
- Twenty-four hours after the National Hurricane Center's last downgrade of the hurricane from hurricane status for any part of this state,
If your Homeowner policy contains a hurricane deductible, then the application of the deductible must comply with Connecticut law. The percentage and dollar amount of the hurricane deductible will be listed on the Declarations page if it is applicable to the policy.
Inquiry: The stream in back of my property overflowed the banks. My basement is flooded and furniture is damaged. Am I covered?
Not unless you have a Flood Insurance Policy. The homeowner’s policy excludes damage caused by flooding, such as the overflow of streams, rivers and lakes, etc. Flood policies are subject to rules established by the Federal Government. Normally you cannot purchase a Flood policy immediately before or after a flood or hurricane.
Damage from flooding is excluded from homeowners, condo, and renters insurance, but separate policies can be purchased from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or a private insurer.
Although among all natural disasters floods are the most common and most costly, there is a 30-day waiting period before a flood insurance policy take effect. Because of that, now is the time to review your coverage and decide if flood insurance is the right choice to protect your home.
Inquiry: I own a business that has been forced to shut down because of a power outage. Am I covered for these losses?
Answer: Commercial Policies are specialized. Call your agent or company to discuss the coverages on your policy. Coverage for losses are specific to the individual policy language and the specific fact pattern of the loss, off-site power interruption is not usually a covered Business Interruption loss unless there is an endorsement purchased for that specific coverage often called “Service Interruption Coverage.” Standard Business Interruption coverage normally pays for losses resulting from direct damages to the insured location for a loss covered under the policy.