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Insurance planning tips for hurricane preparedness

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BATON ROUGE - The first day of hurricane season is also a good time to get organized. That includes knowing what your insurance covers and what it doesn't.

Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says it's best to be prepared and get those policies in order now before the storm enters the Gulf.

Thousands of Louisianians have experienced a great loss of property in the last couple of years. Some people have replaced their belongings easier than others. The Louisiana Department of Insurance says there are a number of things property owners should do to prepare for hurricane season. The first step is to get with your insurance agent to do an overall insurance check-up.

"Know what coverage you have and more importantly, or equally important, know what is not covered," said Donelon.

Hurricanes bring two big problems: wind and water. Flood damage from heavy rain is not included in most homeowner's policies, which is why flood insurance is so important in Louisiana. For more information on a National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policy, ask an agent or visit www.floodsmart.gov. Some policies have a 30-day waiting period before they take effect.

In Louisiana, depending on the policy, you might also need protection against wind.

"The great majority of policies come with a named storm deductible," said Donelon.

Named storm and hurricane deductibles typically run anywhere from one to five percent of your property's insured value. If a house is insured for $200,000 with a five percent deductible, $10,000 will be paid by the policyholder out of pocket and before coverage takes effect.

"Most folks, even after 10 years of those being commonplace, are not aware of that," said Donelon.

It's also a good idea to know what you have inside your home. Smartphones make it easy to take photos or video on your phone and keep a record of your possessions to make the claims process much easier.

"Do an inventory of your property and your valuables, your assets before you evacuate, actually do it now," said Donelon.

Some people might still be working to fix up their house from the August 2016 flood. The Louisiana Department of Insurance says there's specific coverage for that, too.

If you are forced to evacuate, make sure copies of your policies and your agent's contact information is ready to go. Make sure that information is up to date.

For more information on insurance during hurricane season, you visit the Hurricane Resource Center or call 1-800-259-5300.

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