Oil and Water

Posted June 16th, 2010
by HomeownersInsurance.org Staff (no comments)

For those who live along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, the potential for losing a home due to hurricanes is just a part of life. While some find out too late, more and more people understand these days that you need both homeowner’s insurance and flood insurance to protect yourself from the multi-faceted damage these horrific storms can produce.

Recent developments with the tragic BP oil spill have led to a host of interesting new questions amongst Gulf Coast homeowners. Many want to know what our insurance policies will cover. We also want to know who is responsible for the rest. Is BP liable? Do we simply lose out if our homes and property are damaged by oil? A hurricane or tropical storm blowing oil inland is a very real possibility, threatening residents not only on the beach, but throughout the coastal area.

Let’s take a look at what would happen and who would be liable if a Gulf storm caused damage to our homes or property by blowing oil ashore:

  • In most cases, our insurance companies would pay for any structural damage caused by the storm, except for damage caused by flooding. This does not necessarily include damage caused by pollutants such as oil.
  • Flood insurance would cover any damage caused to the home because of flooding. It appears that this would likely include damage caused by any oil that was in the water while the area was flooded, but this has not been clearly defined, and FEMA has not yet made a definitive statement on the issue. Additionally, only structural damage would be covered in most cases. The yard, gardens, etc. are uncovered.
  • In the case of the current BP oil disaster, BP may be responsible for covering damages to your home or lawn, should they be damaged by oil from the spill. However, the process of establishing claims can be time consuming. Make sure that all damage is well documented before you begin any cleanup proceedings, so you will have proof of damages should you need it later.

For those living on the Gulf Coast, especially the areas that are being hardest hit with this disaster, it might be a good idea to contact your agent now, before a hurricane rolls in, to see what we are (and aren’t) covered for. The last thing we want is to face the aftermath of a disaster and find out that our homeowner’s insurance didn’t cover everything we thought it did.

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