Several Ways Insurance Protects Homeowners from Hurricane Florence and Other Natural Disasters

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After the recent devastation from Hurricane Florence felt locally and throughout the Carolinas, I had a few questions about how insurance protects homeowners from major storms and natural disasters.

So naturally, I went straight to local insurance expert Fiona Swaenepoel, Owner/Agent of the Waxhaw based insurance firm, Top-Flite Insurance Agency, Inc., to get those questions answered.

The following transcript is from our conversation.

Q: Fiona, how does insurance protect individuals and their property during catastrophic events like Hurricane Florence?  

A: Great question, Jimmy.  Wind and hail are covered perils. Flooding, however, is not. More specifically, rain coming in due to wind damaging the integrity of the roof would be covered. Seepage of water into the home at the ground level or higher due to heavy rains is the definition of flooding in relation to insurance policies, and that is not covered. To give you an idea of cost – a flood policy for a home NOT in a high risk flood zone is around $450, maybe less, in a flood zone can easily be $2000 or more per year.

Q. What does HOI cover exactly? Does it cover personal property inside your house?

A: In short, a homeowners policy covers the home, other structures (shed, fence, pool, detached garage), and all of your personal property.  It also covers personal liability and medical payments to guests. Liability coverage protects the homeowners if they are sued for any personal reason whether it be at the house or away. Medical payments are a quick and easy payout for injuries on the property and sometimes can help prevent a lawsuit!

Q: How about umbrella policies?  

A: An umbrella policy has nothing to due with flood insurance. An umbrella policy will never pay directly to the person who purchases it. What it does pay for is attorney fees and court fees in relation to a lawsuit against the insured and that alone can make them worthwhile. They also pay any settlement made on the insured’s behalf. They cover over and above the auto and homeowners liability coverage – hence the name umbrella – also known as a Personal Catastrophe Liability policy, but umbrella is much easier to say!

Q: Should I keep a running tally of all of my possessions and their value in case of a natural disaster?   

A: It is a good idea to have a list of your valuables. You can always email a list to your agent of things you are most concerned about and they can tell you they are covered properly.

Q: I’ve read their is a waiting period for flood insurance policies to kick in. Can you purchase and use flood insurance if you purchase it just before a hurricane hits?  

A: You are right.  There is a 30 day waiting period for flood insurance, unless it is required by a mortgage broker for a home closing. You cannot buy a flood policy right before a storm hits.

Q: Can I add coverage for my home or vehicle the next time a major storm system is about to come through? Or am I better off having it ahead of time?  

A: Typically companies will put a moratorium on agents binding new policies, increasing coverage, or decreasing deductibles if there is a Watch or Warning related to severe weather.

Fiona is a Proud Rotarian, Member of Union County Chamber of Commerce, Union County Women in Business Group and Waxhaw Business Association Ambassador. You can call her at 704-243-2100, email to, and visit online at

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Jimmy Grappone
Jimmy Grappone is Team Leader with The CLT Life Home Team at Costello Real Estate & Investments. Grappone serves on Waxhaw's Main Street Advisory Board and Autism Strong Foundation's Leadership Team. He is a former president of Waxhaw Business Association and co-founder of Waxhaw's Pups n Pints festival to benefit SCDR. Grappone is an active member of St. Matthew Catholic Church. He and his wife are proud puppy parents to 4-legged son, Jack.