Many folks in Hays and Travis county, as well as the rest of the US, are inadequately insured for natural-catastrophe damage ahead of the height of the Atlantic hurricane season.
Last year we had three major landfalling hurricanes, the one affecting Texas the most being Hurricane Harvey. These storms served as a wake-up call to some but the under-insurance persists, according to regulators, trade groups and government data.
While most people have home insurance, many lack flood insurance. They also have home-insurance policy limits that are too low to cover the full cost of repairing or rebuilding their properties. We interviewed one of our preferred vendors, Jesse Miller with Goosehead Insurance, about this tragic fact.
“What more people don’t understand is that everyone has a floodplain rating for their house so technically everyone is in a floodplain of some kind. Construction can change drainage areas and so that can affect flooding too.”
The Houston area that was devastated by flooding after Harvey had about a 70% flood-related damage area that wasn’t covered by insurance. Even for wind damage, which is typically covered under home policies, some people were frustrated to find that their insurance wouldn’t pay. That being said, according to Jesse Miller, “wind/hail damage covers what would happen if a tropical storm hit our area. The chance of a hurricane hitting Travis or Hays county is so rare. We have the cheapest rates in Central Texas (typically between $300-$400 a year) just because of our weather patterns compared to other parts of Texas (i.e. Houston and flooding or Dallas and hail). In our area there is no supplemental coverage needed because the main coverage from an insurance agency will cover what’s needed.”
So while Houston was severely under-insured, the good news is your Central Texans are, on average, adequately covered. At least for wind damage. “Yes most are under-insured for flood but not as many for wind because it’s included in the general policy. By and large most have good coverage across the board and it’s rare that I come across someone who is severely under-insured. Sometimes what I do come across are coverage that can be added to the general plan to cover unique items or things about the house (i.e. water backup, water under foundation, water seepage, mold, pet liability, jewelry, “toys” etc).” says Jesse.
Jesse did not have any clients that were not paid out for Hurricane Harvey expenses. “Most broke even if not over compensated.” Jesse warns his clients that you don’t want to jump to making a claim if you can help it. “I’m not one of those kind of agents that will try to up-sell insurance. Once you start filing these claims your rate goes up. If you can fix it yourself, you should try to.”
In summary, Texas coastal regions remain largely under-insured compared to most Central Texans. If you’re worried about what kind of tropical storm coverage you have, contact your home insurance company. Not happy with your policy coverage? Meet with your real estate agent to get connected to a reputable one that can provide the service you need.