August ushers in the peak of hurricane season, so the Alabama Department of Insurance is asking Alabama homeowners to review their insurance policies regarding hurricanes – particularly in the area of deductibles.
In the past five years many insurers changed deductibles for hurricane and wind damage from $500 or $1,000 to a percentage of the insured value of the home ranging from 1 to 5 percent. Homeowners in Alabama’s coastal counties of Baldwin and Mobile are warned to pay particular attention, said Alabama Insurance Commissioner Walter A. Bell.
“We certainly pray that no hurricanes come our way, but we want Alabamians to be alert to what is in their policies in case a hurricane strikes us,” Commissioner Bell said.
Dr. William Gray, the noted hurricane expert and professor at Colorado State University, has projected 14 named storms this season with eight developing into hurricanes – and three that would become intense hurricanes.
Under a percentage-based deductible, a $200,000 home with a 1 percent rate would have a deductible of $2,000. If it were a 5 percent rate, the cost would rise to $10,000.
Some insurers have special hurricane/wind deductibles in Alabama’s inland counties as well that are based on percentages. Commissioner Bell said that’s why everyone – not just residents of Baldwin and Mobile counties – should pay attention.
“Everyone needs to know what is in their homeowners’ policy – regardless of where you live,” Commissioner Bell said. “We’re sounding the warning because of hurricane season, but there are many types of events that can occur and damage someone’s home.
“If you are not sure what is in your policy, please read it. Then if you have a question, ask your agent. If you are still unsure, please let us know. We will be delighted to answer questions.”
The Alabama Department of Insurance can be reached in a variety of ways. Its web site is www.aldoi.gov. You can e-mail questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can write to P.O. Box 303351, Montgomery, Alabama, 36130-3351, or you can call 334-269-3550.
“We are here to answer the public’s questions regarding homeowners or any other kind of insurance,” Bell said. “Our aim is to respond to every citizen’s inquiry quickly and courteously.”