Understand your insurance policy, and update if necessary
Check your policy. Do you know how much coverage you have? Is it enough to replace what you actually own, based on current home values and materials prices? If you were displaced from your home, would your insurance pay for you to live elsewhere? Have a conversation with your insurance agent to ensure that you'd recuperate losses if you lost everything.
Discuss disaster coverage. Some events, such as floods or earthquakes, may not be covered by your regular policy, or you may need a secondary policy for coverage. Many insurance policies don't cover flooding caused by heavy rains, hurricanes or other conditions.
And even if you have flood coverage, it might not pay for everything. "Insurance didn't cover the $20,000 foundation repair," Katie says. "And even though my electric was damaged from flood waters, it didn't cover the entire rewire — it only covered the downstairs, where the water was." (Note: Flood insurance doesn’t kick in until 30 days after purchase, so this isn’t a last-minute decision you can make.)
Check extra deductibles. Hurricanes and other major event claims are sometimes treated differently than typical homeowner's claims. Many policies carry a hurricane or windstorm deductible of 1% to 5% of the insured value of your home — so if you suffer hurricane damage, you could owe some of your home's value out of pocket toward damages before your insurance starts paying. Read your policy carefully to understand the terms and conditions, and ask your agent about whether you should consider purchasing extra coverage.
Take a home inventory
As Katie learned, this can be invaluable when you're dealing with an insurance claim after the fact, and it's easier than ever with a smartphone. Videotape your home, room by room, to document your possessions. Open every drawer and closet and film the contents. You can also use a home inventory app such as Sortly or Memento Database for finer detail.