HOUSTON - Have you looked at your homeowner's or rental insurance policies lately? Local 2 Investigates has found simple mistakes can cost you thousands of dollars if you have a claim after a storm.
- Home Insurance Inventory Checklist | Texas Dept. of Insurance: Consumer Protection
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Experts say now is the time for you to take another look at your renter's or homeowner's insurance policy.
"I think a lot of people were surprised about what their policy covered and didn't cover," said Audrey Selden, a senior associate commissioner for consumer protection at the Texas Department of Insurance.
Selden says tough lessons are learned after every major hurricane and Hurricane Ike was no different.
"Many of the things that we saw were literally that the person had not purchased enough insurance," Selden said.
One of the biggest issues -- getting enough money to replace your home.
Homeowners are used to seeing things like appraised value or market value, but Selden says when it comes to insurance, you need to look at replacement value.
"That means if I had to rebuild my home today, how much would it cost -- material, labor and the like," Selden explained. "Don't be fooled by the appraised value or your market value of the home. You're talking about starting from square one and rebuilding."
The next step is making sure your policy is "weather proof." Check the section on windstorm protection to look for specific coverage.
Some along the coast have to purchase a different policy from the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association. You'll have to purchase a separate flood policy. Even then, you need specific flood protection.
"One of the things we saw through Ike was while some consumers had flood coverage, maybe they didn't have flood contents coverage," said Selden. "So, it's very important that as you do your insurance checkup now, that you look over your homeowner's contents coverage, windstorm and flood, both for the structure and contents of your home."
To replace the things inside your home or apartment, you need to know everything in it.
Selden believes the best way to take a good inventory is to make a detailed list of all of the items in your home.
She suggests taking a home video outside and inside -- everything from your game systems to appliances, furniture to clothing.
"Can you imagine -- you have your master list there and you're checking to see what got destroyed or ruined or what didn't?" Selden explained. "As opposed to sitting there in a very dramatic time and trying to remember every single detail about the things that you do have, that you've now lost."
Also, Selden suggests keeping receipts of any big ticket items you buy so you can prove their worth.
Remember, Selden says, you can request to see or make changes to your homeowner's or renter's policy at any time.
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