5 Reasons To Check Your New Home Insurance Policy Immediately After Moving


Whether you’re a homeowner or a renter, living anywhere near the Gulf of Mexico means you need to prepare ahead for storm season. 

That doesn’t just mean getting a generator and stocking up on food essentials. 

If you’re into going above and beyond (kind of like us!), you’ll want to do the smart thing and check on your home insurance policy so you’re not left high and wet dry!

We sat down with Ken Robinson of MAKZ Insurance to get the scoop on why it’s so important to examine your insurance policy as soon as possible. 

So why do you really need to check out the details of your home or renters policy right away?

According to Ken, here’s exactly what you should know (and do) about your renters and homeowners insurance policies before the official start of hurricane season!

Table of Contents

#1: Insurance Carriers Prepare Early for Storm Season—Even if You Don’t

Hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin (which includes the Gulf of Mexico where the great state of Texas extends) *officially* lasts from June 1 to November 30 each year. 

But, as anyone living in Texas, Florida, or Louisiana knows, a tropical storm can strike at any time. 

In fact, the first hurricanes of 2020 actually began in May:

A survey by the American Psychiatric Association found that Americans are the most anxious about finances, safety, and health. Moving can trigger anxiety because it impacts your finances and safety.

If you think insurance companies don’t track weather reports, think again.

So instead of waiting until the eleventh hour of a storm forecast, there are quite a few reasons you shouldn’t wait to do an insurance check-up. More obvious factors include protecting your major investments (like your house, rental property, and your personal items.)

The less obvious reason? 

Cutoff dates are set by all insurance carriers in the face of named storms. 

Yes, this varies by the insurer, but if you don’t prepare early, you could end up waiting too late to get or update your homeowner’s or renter’s policy.

#2: You Can’t Get ‌Homeowners‌ or Renters ‌Insurance‌ During‌ ‌Hurricane‌ ‌Season

Let’s clear something up:

While Ken verifies that you can get homeowners or renters insurance at any time—remember, official hurricane season starts June 1—there is a catch when it comes to impending storm warnings…

“You cannot get insurance when a named storm is so many miles away from the coast,” he says. 

“So for instance, if you’re in the Houston or Galveston area, and a named storm is like, 100 miles off the coast… Most carriers shut down binding authority, which means that you can’t buy a policy at that time.”  

Why the heck does this even happen?

Insurance carriers operate off of their financial reserves to pay out claims, based on the number of clients. 

The companies could literally go bankrupt if they accommodated everyone who scrambles to get home or renters insurance due to a storm forecast. 

Then, they’d have to pay out MASSIVE amounts of claims all at once, based on the hundreds of thousands of new clients…

We’re talking in the millions to billions of dollars worth of damage that storms often cause.

Imagine how quickly the industry would collapse if they accepted new clients every time a storm was miles away from the coast of a major city! 

To protect their reserves, carriers set a cut-off date for purchasing last-minute policies.  That’s why it’s critical to buy, change, or adjust your renters or home insurance policy before storm season even starts. 

—Ken Robinson, MAKZ Insurance Tweet

“Don’t wait until it’s too late,” Ken warns, “because if you wait until the storm is 100 miles off the coast, it’s too late. Every carrier has their [own rules] and threshold of what they feel is their breaking point.” 

That goes for all types of property policies: homeowners insurance, renters insuranceflood insurance, and even auto insurance!”

#3: Storm Damage Isn’t Necessarily Covered by Your Homeowners Insurance

You should definitely check out what your deductible says on your declaration page specifically regarding storm damage. 

Perhaps you assume that coverage is automatically included, but that depends on a few things.

Some insurance carriers combine wind, hail, and named storms under one deductible, while others have three separate deductibles for each. 

All storms are typically covered by your policy unless you or your carrier exclude the coverage for some reason… Such as, where you live:

“There are parts of Galveston, and down the coast where you may have to get a separate wind policy because you’re too close to the coast,” Ken says, “But, for the most part, all homeowner’s policies cover wind damage, fire, and most storms.”

#4: Flooding Is Super Common During Storms, but Isn’t Covered by Your Renters or Homeowner Policy

One thing our team and Ken have noticed in plenty of discussions with new homeowners or people moving into storage, is the confusion over flood coverage. 

And, since it floods so easily in the Gulf Coast, Ken wants to end the confusion once and for all.

Flood coverage is an entirely separate policy, which means you have to add it to your current coverage. 

Don’t assume that just because you have homeowners or renters insurance that you also have flood insurance. Make sure you check with your insurance carrier to verify.

#5: Your Policy’s Replacement Cost vs. Actual Cash Value Coverage Can Be Very Different

Your policy’s replacement cost vs. actual cash value (ACV) can be very different.

Typically, under a basic renters or homeowners policy, your personal property is covered at ACV instead of replacement value. 

You can increase or upgrade this with your carrier, though.

Here’s the difference between actual cash value and replacement cost when it comes to covering your damages:

This is the amount your item is worth, including depreciation over time. Whatever amount is not covered, you’ll have to make up the difference yourself.

This is the amount your insurance carrier will pay to replace your item at its brand-new & current cost

To decide between keeping ACV or upgrading to replacement cost, Ken suggests that you:

  1. Get an appraisal if you’ve been in a home for a while (say, 10-15 years), or have had major repairs/renovations done. 
  2. Take inventory of what you own. Using a receipt-tracking app or folder in your email is a great way to document when and how much you paid for each item. This way, you can decide which insurance option is best.
  3. Adjust your replacement cost/ACV policy limits through your insurer so you have solid coverage in case of a hurricane.
  4. Even renters may need to adjust their policy limits, especially if you own high-value items. You can also get a special endorsement for pieces like jewelry. The good news is you only really need to worry about your personal belongings

Replacement cost vs. actual cash value can be a little more complicated than what’s presented here.

See more in-depth info in our previous post about the differences between replacement cost and ACV to help you determine how much you need (of either option) to protect your new home:

Wrapping Up

There’s nothing better than knowing your personal property is safe (or that you’ll at least be reimbursed if it’s damaged)… especially as we face increasingly stronger, more frequent storms here in Texas.

Now that you know to start early, ensure you have the best renters or homeowners policy coverage for your needs before storm season! Get in touch with your agent to protect your home or personal belongings right away. 

You can also contact Ken Robinson at MAKZinsurance.com for assistance with any confusing insurance details.

Remember, if you’re already moving out or need storage due to storm damage, we’re always here to help you, too!

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Flood Insurance Advice That Will Protect Your Dream Home


Wondering how flood insurance actually works, what it covers, and what it costs? Perhaps you’re not even convinced that you need it.

Hurricane season is nothing to laugh at in Texas. So, flood insurance should at least be on your radar if you don’t already have it. 

To get the real deal on how flood insurance can help safeguard your precious property, we sat down with Ken Robinson, who services all of Texas as CEO of MAKZ Insurance.

 

Ken drops some excellent and little-known insights for everyone: no matter if you’re a brand new homeowner, a renter, or if you’re simply considering flood insurance for the first time.

How do Insurance Companies Define a Flood Event?

In very elementary terms: insurance policies shell out money when bad things happen

Obviously, those horrible events must have definitions so they know when to pay. If this event doesn’t fit the definition, then your property is not covered under that specific policy. 

Flood insurance isn’t any different.

According to Ken, companies define a flood as whenever water comes from outside of your home, into your home. 

So if that happens to you AND you have flood insurance, you’re much better off. Your damaged home is generally covered.  

 

Do I Really Need Flood Insurance?

“I recommend definitely everyone should get flood insurance. I know there are a lot of rumors… that every part of Houston is not a flood zone…As long as you’re living in the city, you should definitely have flood insurance. At any time, it just takes one heavy rainstorm, and you’re flooded.”

—Ken Robinson

To understand why flood insurance is beneficial—especially in a Gulf state or coastal city—let’s backtrack to what home insurance does and does not cover. 

Standard homeowner’s insurance policies cover 3 key things:

  • The building structure
  • Liability (if someone gets hurt/injured on your property)

Your personal property is covered if you have an endorsement (And, you should absolutely inventory your things… it’s easy to do when you move)

To be clear: flooding is not covered under homeowner’s insurance!

 

What Flood Insurance Does And Does Not Cover

“You must have flood insurance in order to get coverage. Your homeowner’s policy does not cover flood insurance at all.”

—Ken Robinson

Flood insurance is different from homeowner’s insurance since it covers: 

  1. More than a standard homeowner’s insurance or renters policy
  2. Building structure if it’s damaged by water from outside your home
  3. *Optional add-on: Personal property (clothes, electronics, appliances, etc.)

 

While it’s optional, Ken recommends that everyone gets the personal property add-on in case of a flood, and ask questions about the type of coverage you’re getting.

There are two ways that insurance companies pay out on personal property claims:

  • Some calculate value using replacement cost (the cost of replacing your items at the same price/with the same materials). 
  • Other companies use actual cash value to reimburse your damaged property.

The value of things like shoes and clothing will be harder to verify—since regular wear and tear diminishes them over the years. 

Ken recommends making an inventory of your belongings right away in order to have proof in case they are damaged. 

A perfect time to do a home inventory is if you’re moving! Try:

  • Filming a video journal 
  • Taking pictures and scanning receipts with a phone app
  • Making an online spreadsheet or notebook as you shop 

If you want coverage for items that are damaged by water coming into your residence from outside, you absolutely must have flood insurance. Preferably, with a personal property add-on. 

Don’t have it? 

You’re on the hook for your own repairs and item replacements. 

 

What Are My Options for Flood Insurance?

“I recommend that everyone get a private flood program quote and a National Flood Program [NFIP] quote.”

—Ken Robinson

There are two main ways to get flood insurance and they’re all quoted annually:

  • FEMA National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)– a standard policy where holders pay the same rate statewide as determined by FEMA
  • Private flood insurance programs- policy is based off a private insurer’s systems; lenders must approve these programs, but pricing is becoming competitive

Note for homeowners: Consult your mortgage company first, as some lenders don’t accept flood insurance policies from private companies. If you own your home outright, it’s your decision.

 

What Are the Waiting Periods for Flood Insurance?

Here in the Gulf, hurricane season arrives in late spring or early summer like clockwork.

So, if you live in any of the Gulf states prone to hurricanes or flooding, get your flood insurance a month before then.

For areas at risk during inclement weather, it’s crucial not to procrastinate about getting a flood policy if you want to be covered soon.

For NFIP policies:

There is a 30-day waiting period before flood policies kick in. Any flooding that happens within this time will not be covered by your flood insurance or homeowner’s insurance. The only exception? If you’re moving into a newly-purchased home. (This is to avoid having to pay out too many claims at once, which would put the insurers themselves in dire financial straits). 

For private insurance policies:

Ken acknowledges there’s a lot more flexibility with private flood insurers. Although you’re limited to getting the mortgage company’s approval on a private flood policy, the waiting period is drastically different. It takes anywhere from 15-, 10-, or even 0-day waiting periods for your property to get flood coverage with a private company.  

 

How Much Does Flood Insurance Cost Per Year?

You really can’t put a price on knowing you’ll be taken care of if your property gets flooded… Generally speaking, flood insurance costs will vary based on different factors, like:

  1. Location of your home
  2. Cost and size of your home (this determines how much coverage you need)
  3.  Replacement cost of your home (should be at least equal to your home’s appraisal value)

Through the NFIP, this policy is paid out first. The maximum coverage limit is $250,000, regardless of the cost of your home.

For example, if your home costs $500,000, your NFIP flood policy only covers half in case of a flood (possibly less if your home’s appraisal value has increased).  In this case, Ken recommends getting an excess policy for flooding to cover the additional $250,000 the home is worth. 

 

Do I Need It If I Live in a Condo or Rent an Apartment?

“Be it renting or owning, you want to have some type of insurance in place. Even in the instance of renting, you still need to make sure your personal property is covered.”

—Ken Robinson

Do you even need flood insurance if you’re renting? Ken says yes. 

See that 3-point list of what homeowner’s insurance covers? The same thing applies if you get a renter’s policy (for renting houses or apartments) or a condominium policy (for owning a condo). Again, you’ll need a flood insurance policy to get any coverage for water that comes into your residence from outside and causes damages. 

The chances of experiencing flood damage from anything higher than the first floor are quite slim. Therefore, Ken recommends that residents who live on first-floor units get insurance against floods. 

 

How Do I Know If I’m Buying or Renting In a Flood Zone?

“When you’re speaking with your realtor, that realtor should have that information. There are sites online where you can enter your information to determine if you’re in a flood zone.”

—Ken Robinson

Like many Texas-based insurers, Ken prefers to use the terms high-risk and low-risk when referring to flood zones.

Due to the state’s position near a coast known for hurricanes and sudden, heavy rainfall, he firmly believes the entire cities could be endangered by unexpected floods at any time.

For Renters: 

If you’re about to move, it’s important to ask your realtor or leasing agent about this first. 

Some questions to ask include:

  1. Is this property in a flood zone?
  2. Do you know if it’s in an A-, E-, or X-zone?
  3. Has this property experienced flooding before?
  4. Do you have proof of a flood zone certificate?

Remember, if you’re renting in a first-floor unit in a higher-risk area (even if it’s never flooded before), you’ll likely want to consider flood insurance.

For Homeowners:

Mortgage companies require that you insure high-risk properties in certain zones with a flood policy before they greenlight your loan. 

If the property is in a known or risky area for flooding, then the mortgage company will definitely know. You don’t really need to investigate further, in this case. 

Here’s a simplified way to remember how mortgage companies judge the flood risk of a home:

  • A or B or E zone = higher-risk 
  • X zone = lower-risk 

If your mortgage company says your house is in a flood zone, here’s what happens:

  1. Mortgage company will send a surveyor to inspect the property
  2. Surveyor will provide a flood certificate
  3. The flood certificate will include the designated risk level 

How to Check If You’re In a Flood Zone

Flood zones can come and go, (or get worse).  

When remapping of flood zones occurs, mortgages make sure you’re notified if your property is identified as having a newly changed risk for flooding.

You should receive a letter in the mail informing you if you’re in a higher-risk flood zone. This will also tell you if you’re required to get insurance.

To check an address by yourself, click over to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website below.  

Are You Living in a Flood Zone? Enter Your Address to Find Out.

If the tool above shows that you’re in a high-risk flood zone, Ken recommends that you get a flood insurance policy as soon as possible.

 

Why New & Current Homeowners Need To Check Flood Risk

“Unfortunately, with the last couple of floods that have happened over the last five years or so, some areas that were initially not in high-risk zones are now in those zones. When those homeowners bought those properties, they were in low-risk zones, but now they’re not. And in some areas that were in high-risk zones, I’ve been seeing some areas that have fallen into low-risk [zones]. So those areas have actually gotten credited for not flooding.”

—Ken Robinson

It’s completely legal to sell property in a flood zone. 

You can also build a home in a flood zone (although it might not be the wisest decision in a higher risk location).

As Ken points out, flood zones and their risk levels can change in as little as five years!

That’s why it’s crucial to verify the flood risk for wherever you live. 

Do it for the sake of either protecting your home and belongings, or to possibly save money on your home insurance.

 

Can I Reduce or Remove Flood Insurance Requirements?

“Increase, yes: flood insurers always want you to have adequate amounts of coverage. Decrease? If there is a mortgage on it, no, they won’t allow you to do that because that loan is still being covered.”

—Ken Robinson

There is one caveat if you own your home (although Ken doesn’t recommend it since it exposes you to a huge risk). However, you have the right to decrease your level of flood insurance coverage if you feel it’s necessary. 

So, Will You Finally Get Flood Insurance?

Why are we covering topics like property insurance? It’s simple:

We want to make sure anyone who’s moving is happy and successful—even if our movers haven’t personally helped you. Your personal property should always be insured against damages or potential loss.

 

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