WASHINGTON – A series of destructive storms that hit the Washington region over the last 15 years has raised the price of homeowners insurance for everyone, whether their homes had damage or not.
Since 1999, there have been four hurricanes that did millions of dollars in damage because of wind, rain and flooding in the area.
It started with Hurricane Floyd in 1999. Then Hurricane Isabel hit in 2003, followed closely by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. Hurricane Irene, which hit a year ago as of this week, caps off the list.
“Insurance companies are reassessing what the risks are in certain areas,” says Lorretta Worters, vice-president of the Insurance Information Institute, which tracks storm damage as far back as 1978. “In what might not have been a high risk years ago, they’re seeing more and more potential losses.”
The assessment does not take into account the recent derecho or last year’s 5.8- magnitude earthquake, which are considered to be much more rare.
How much a person’s homeowners insurance could increase depends on whether they have filed a claim and what type of home they own. But homeowners insurance in general is going up across the board.
Worters says the best way to protect a home is with flood insurance. Standard homeowners insurance does not cover flooding, though it would cover water damage from rain.
She says the general principal is if it comes from underneath, it is not covered. If it comes from above, it is covered by standard homeowners insurance.
Under this principle, a neighborhood creek that overflows and floods a home would not be covered. But if a storm blew a person’s roof off or blew out the windows in a home, water damage from rain would then be covered.
Flood insurance is available from the National Flood Insurance program and from a few private insurers. But Worters says people shouldn’t wait until a storm is approaching to buy it. There is a 30-day waiting period before the insurance takes effect.