Volusia County residents and business owners are still working on rebuilding from the 2022 hurricane season. Insurance policies have a hurricane deductible, an amount the policyholder is responsible to pay their carrier before the insurance company can issue any payment caused by a hurricane. It is typically equivalent to some percentage of the value of the property. What many property owners might not know is exactly when damage is considered to be caused by a hurricane.
According to Florida statute 627.4025, once a storm has been declared a hurricane by the National Weather Service, all of the destruction it causes is hurricane damage, even if it weakens. The deductible goes into effect for any damage that happens within 72 hours of the last hurricane watch or warning issued anywhere in the state. The law, created in 1995, was meant to give residents incentives to take as much precaution as possible when there is a storm.
Volusia properties were impacted by flooding during Hurricane Ian (September 2022). For some, the flooding was a shock because the property is not listed as a “flood zone” on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) current flood map. Property owners are checking with their insurance policies to see if the costs of repairs and recovery can be covered.
Property owners have insurance options to cover loss during fire, wind, hail, lightning strikes and other natural disasters, however, a homeowner’s policy will not cover flood damage. Some Volusia property owners are realizing they may not receive any help from their policies as flood insurance is carried as a separate policy through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). If the property was not located in a flood zone, most mortgage companies do not require the owner to carry a flood insurance policy.
Homeowners, businesses and renters have an option for additional coverage through the NFIP, established in 1968. Federally backed flood insurance is available in participating communities that adopt and enforce floodplain management standards to reduce flood damage. Property owners can purchase coverage for structures and contents. Renters may purchase for their belongings.
A separate insurance policy is required for flooding. A potential result of flooding is mold. So, is mold a covered peril? Most homeowners policies include mold coverage. Examples include mold resulting from a burst pipe or drain from a sink, a water heater leak, a washing machine malfunction or firefighters extinguishing a fire. Rain coming inside during a storm that causes damage to the roof is typically covered as an act of nature. Damage caused by flooding, however, is not part of mold coverage on a standard policy.
According to the Florida Department of Health, mold requires a few things to grow and multiply: nutrients (food), a suitable place to grow and moisture. Indoor mold growth can usually be seen or smelled. It is recommended to investigate areas with an “earthy” or “musty” smell. Sampling for mold in the air should only be done by a professional. All indoor mold growth should be removed promptly.
Mold removal coverage is normally included, but limited to a certain amount. The amount varies by policy and company. The value ranges between $1,000 – $10,000 per occurrence. A property owner may be able to increase the amount of mold protection coverage through the carrier with a policy rider at an additional cost.