If Hurricane Irene Was A “10”…
Remember the 1979 movie “10” starring Dudley Moore and Bo Derek? In this movie, Moore’s portrays a man stupefied by a woman whom he considers the most beautiful creature on the face of the earth. A woman he considers a perfect “10.” Well, Hurricane Irene was no “10.”
Affected property owners who wondered if and how much their homeowners insurance would pay for wind damage should thank their lucky stars Hurricane Irene was either just a Category 1 or a Tropical Storm.
Isn’t A Higher Number Better?
Only if you think a Class A felony is better than a Class E. The Class E felony actually carries a lot less jail time than a Class A.
Cyclones work much the same way, where you’re punished for getting a higher grade.
What Are Hurricanes, And How Do We Measure Them?
When a storm forms off the west coast of Africa, it begins life as a Tropical Cyclone. Once the Tropical Cyclone reaches sustained winds of 39 mph, it becomes a Tropical Storm, and remains so until the sustained winds exceed 74 mph.
Once the sustained winds reach 74 mph, we now have a Hurricane. Hurricanes are categorized according to what is known as the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale. The Saffir-Simpson scale measures wind velocity and based on this measurement, places a hurricane in one of five Categories:
- Category 1 has wind speeds ranging from 74-95 mph. It’s damage potential is minimal. Hurricane Dolly in 2008 was a Category 1.
- Category 2 has wind speeds ranging from 96-110 mph. Its damage potential is extensive. Hurricane Frances in 2004 was such a storm.
- Category 3 has wind speeds ranging from 111-130 mph. It’s damage potential is devastating. Also in 2004, we had Hurricane Ivan.
- Category 4 has wind speeds ranging from 131-155 mph. It’s damage potential is extreme. Hurricane Charley, another 2004 hurricane, wreaked havoc in Punta Gorda, Florida.
The year 2004 was a hot mess, wasn’t it?
- And finally we have Category 5, which has a catastrophic damage potential. It’s wind speeds? Anything over 156 mph. I’ll never forget Hurricane Andrew in 1992, and neither will anyone else who lived in Miami-Dade County then. Andrew’s devastation was so great, building codes in Florida, like many of the houses, were strengthened.
How Does This Affect What My Homeowners Policy Will Pay?
Your homeowners policy contains two (2) deductibles for windstorm-related damage. Any damage caused by either a Tropical Cyclone or a Category 1 hurricane will have a deductible equal to the higher of your all-perils deductible or $1,000. So, if your all-perils deductible is $500.00, you’ll pay $1,000.00. If however your all-perils is $2,500 or higher, that’s the deductible
Should the damage be caused by a Category 2 or higher hurricane, you’ll pay a deductible equal to anywhere from two (2) to five (5) percent of your Coverage A, or Dwelling Coverage. So, if your Coverage A amount is $500,000, and you have a 5% windstorm deductible for Category 2 or higher hurricanes, your deductible, or the part you’ve contractually agreed to pay for this loss, will be $25,000.00.
Yes, I’m serious. $25,000.00. Now you see why so many people become angry with their particular insurance company after a Category 2 or higher windstorm. They, like many homeowners, didn’t know how their policy covered different causes of loss. It really pays to read your policy and ask questions of your agent or broker if there is something you’re not quite sure of. Better safe than sorry, or, better covered than uncovered.
What Coverages Are Affected By Windstorm Deductibles?
The following Section I coverages of your policy: Coverage A (Dwelling); Coverage B (Other Structures); and Coverage C (Personal Property). Check your policy as different companies apply these deductibles to other policy coverages differently.
What Are Coastal Counties?
No matter where your property is located, should both Category 1 and Category 2 hurricane force winds exist during the same hurricane deductible period anywhere in any coastal county, the deductible for a Category 2 or higher hurricane will be in effect.
In New York State, the coastal counties are the Bronx, Kings (Brooklyn), Queens, New York, Richmond, Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester. So a Category 2 in any of the coastal counties means you’d better have significant dollars in the bank to handle your deductible.
So again, let’s be thankful Hurricane Irene, in New York State at least, was just a Category 1, and dropped down to a Tropical Storm and eventually a Tropical Cyclone. Based on the amount of wind-related damage in several states, the devastation could have been far worse.