Hurricane Irene, has left the country.
According to Wall Street Journal, Though not as brutal as feared, the storm was still destructive, killing 24 at last count and causing billions in estimated property damage, with flooding still a risk in some parts of the country, Fox News reports.
For many in Irene’s path, the focus will now turn to trying persuade insurance companies to cover their losses.
One prime concern is that standard homeowners insurance typically covers damage from wind but not flooding, and it can be hard to tell which is which, according to this report from Smart Money.
Hurricane Katrina was followed by extensive litigation over whether homeowners policies did in fact exclude coverage for water damage. Insurers won many of those disputes, as we reported here.
If strong winds tear through the roof or wall of a house and leads to flooding, consumers with homeowners insurance only (and not additional flood insurance) will have to argue that it was wind — not subsequent flooding– that led to the damage, according to Smart Money.
Insurance companies have started to pass more of the financial burdens of natural disasters to policyholders, Smart Money reports, noting that many insurers now require mandatory hurricane deductibles, which can raise out-of-pocket costs for policyholders.
“Families will have to dig deeper into their pockets,” J. Robert Hunter, director of insurance for the Consumer Federation of America, said.
That’s not to say, though, that Irene will be a picnic for insurance companies. Rod Fox, chief executive of reinsurance broker TigerRisk, said his back-of-the-envelope estimate was that Irene likely caused $3 billion to $5 billion in insured losses. At the high end of that range, Irene would be the tenth most expensive hurricane in U.S. history, behind 2004?s Hurricane Frances. read more.
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