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Will my homeowners’ insurance protect me in the event of an earthquake?

Last year, Americans watched as hurricanes, fires, and earthquakes struck parts of the U.S. and abroad, inflicting massive damages on homes and people caught in their wake.  These natural disasters have caused many of us to realize just how important it is to be prepared for the worst.  Our New York real estate lawyers at Merlino & Gonzalez discuss some steps you can take to prepare your home and assets in case disaster strikes.

Review Your Homeowners Insurance Policy

Homeowners’ insurance policies are lengthy and filled with legalese.  Chances are, you signed your homeowners’ insurance policy without ever closely reading it.  While sitting down to carefully review your homeowners’ insurance policy may not make for the most exciting evening, doing so could potentially save you from financial loss if a disaster strikes.

Homeowners’ insurance policies vary by state and carrier.  Your New York City policy will not likely include coverage for hurricanes or earthquakes.  Floods will likely be excluded as well unless you purchase a separate policy.   While New York may not seem at risk for earthquakes or hurricanes, these natural disasters can truly happen anywhere. Recently, New Yorkers felt a small quake just north of New York City.  Hurricane Sandy further brought to light the vulnerability of New York City if a hurricane were to head its way.

Take the time now to contact your homeowners’ insurance carrier to find out what it would cost to add protection for excluded disasters.  Remember that most flood insurance policies will not cover losses within 30 days of buying the policy.  Additionally, homeowners cannot buy hurricane insurance once hurricane season officially begins.

Take an Inventory of Your Possessions

If you ever need to file a homeowners’ insurance claim, you will need to include a list of items that were damaged, lost, or stolen.  The more information you can provide about your damaged items, the faster your claim may be approved.  You can speed up the claims process by creating an inventory of your valuable possessions now.  Write descriptions of all of your big ticket items and save the list along with photographs of the items, any receipts or brand and model information, and the like.  Taking the time to prepare an inventory now could save you greatly in the long run.